August 2, 2010 – Recent studies show that adults in Washington State are getting fatter while the obesity and overweight rate of the state’s children has actually gone down in 2010.
As you will see below, where we live, how much money we make, and our level of education, all factor in to the number of people who are obese and overweight in Washington and across the nation.
Below you will find websites that can help you assess your own Body Mass Index, learn how to define overweight and obesity, find out how Washington rates, learn how obesity policies are failing Americans, and read why there’s hope for Washington’s kids.
Obesity among Washington State adults continues to increase. In 2009, 26.9% were obese compared to 10% in 1991.
According to the Washington State Department of Health’s “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey,” Washington is one of 32 states with a prevalence for obesity equal to or greater than 25%.
The study further revealed obesity is not distributed evenly throughout the State of Washington with ranges from 13% in San Juan County, well below the state’s 26% average, and 36% in Adams County, well above the state’s average.
The fourteen counties with a prevalence of obesity higher than the state prevalence are: Adams, Cowlitz, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Columbia, Pacific, Grant, Skamania, Mason, Skagit, Yakima, Okanogan, Pierce, and Clark counties.
San Juan, Jefferson, King, and Whatcom counties have a prevalence of obesity below the state prevalence.
Income and Education
According to the study the lower your level of income and education the higher your chances are of being obese.
Adults with annual household incomes of less than $20,000 are 34% more likely to be obese than those in households with annual incomes of $50,000 or more.
And if you graduated from high school but didn’t go on to college, you have a 39% chance of being or becoming obese. The patterns for income and education took into account gender, race, and age.
Prevalence and trends
More and more people in Washington State are becoming obese. Over the past 17 years, Washington has seen an increase of obese adults from 10% in 1990 to 26.9% in 2009.
On a national level, states tended to decrease slightly in obesity after 2001 to 3% a year, but Washington rates continue to rise at the same pace of 4% per year.
The study showed a much different picture for people who are “overweight” instead of “obese.” In Washington State, the percentage of adults who are overweight has not increased but remains steady at 36%.
Given the 26% obesity rate, and the 36% overweight rate, Washington has a rate of 62% who are at least overweight.
Click her to learn how to define overweight and obesity. Click here to determine your own Body Mass Index (BMI) to see where you stand.
It’s worth doing. According to the National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity, the International Journal of Obesity, and the Journal of the American Medical Association, obesity contributes to a host of chronic diseases and causes a greater likelihood of premature death.
In Washington State and the nation, obesity is epidemic.
According to the 2009 Trust for America’s Health report Washingtonians are taking in more calories than needed and are finding it harder to get enough physical activity to consume those extra calories.
The economic crisis has made it more difficult for many Washingtonians to eat a low-fat, healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. It is often cheaper to eat unhealthy, such as filling up on pasta and breads that cost less.
In order to successfully reduce obesity the study suggests government, communities, and individuals need to work harder to create environments that support healthy diets and opportunities for physical activity.
the epidemic is driven by changes in the physical, social and economic environment that make it easy to take in more calories than needed while making it harder to get enough physical activity to consume those extra calories.
Hope for Washington’s Kids
Dr. Jeffrey Levi, Director of Trust for America’s Health, said, “In 1991 we didn’t have a single state over 20% obesity rates, and now most are over 25%.”
The good news is that our state showed a dramatic improvement in childhood obesity rates.
Levi said, “We’ve taken the physical out of our lives. We’re a very car-centric society. We haven’t even built our communities to encourage walking and physical activity.”
And while the report found that one in three children is either overweight or obese, there’s a positive spin.
“Obesity rates are lower among kids then they are among adults, and if we can stem the tide among kids that will give us great hope for the future,” said Levi.
According to the report, childhood obesity rates in Washington State dropped from 29 percent to 11 percent in 2010.
Body Mass Index table (PDF version)
Defining overweight and obesity
HealthyAmericans.org – report
F is for Fat
Healthy Americans – 2009 Report
BRFSS Trends and Data (2009)