Oklahoma: 7th Most Obese State

Washington, D.C. – Oklahoma was named the seventh most obese state in the country, according to the eighth annual F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011, a report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Oklahoma's adult obesity rate is 31.4 percent.

Adult obesity rates increased in 16 states in the past year and did not decline in any state. Twelve states including Oklahoma now have obesity rates over 30 percent. Four years ago, only one state was above 30 percent. Obesity rates exceed 25 percent in more than two-thirds of states (38 states)

This year, for the first time, report examined how the obesity epidemic has grown over the past two decades:

* Over the past 15 years, seven states have doubled their rate of obesity. Another 10 states nearly doubled their obesity rate, with increased of at least 90 percent, and 22 more states saw obesity rates increase by at least 80 percent
* Fifteen years ago, Oklahoma had an obesity rate of 12.9 percent and was ranked 12th least obese state in the nation. The obesity rate in Oklahoma doubled over the last 15 years.
* Since 1995, obesity rates have grown the fastest in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee, and have grown the slowest in Washington, D.C., Colorado, and Connecticut.
* Ten years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 24 percent, and now 43 states have higher obesity rates than the state that was the highest in 2000.

"Today, the state with the lowest adult obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995," said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH. "There was a clear tipping point in our national weight gain over the last twenty years, and we can't afford to ignore the impact obesity has on our health and corresponding health care spending."

In addition, for many states, their combined rates for overweight and obesity, and rates of chronic health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, have increased dramatically over the past two decades. For Oklahoma, long-term trends in rates include:

* Fifteen years ago, Oklahoma had a combined obesity and overweight rate of 51.3 percent. Ten years ago, it was 55.7 percent. Now, the combined rate is 67.1 percent.
* Diabetes rates have doubled in ten states including Oklahoma in the past 15 years. In 1995, Oklahoma had a diabetes rate of 3.8 percent. Now the diabetes rate is 10.5 percent.
* Fifteen years ago, Oklahoma had a hypertension rate of 21.7 percent. Now, the rate is 31.9 percent.

Racial and ethnic minority adults, and those with less education or who make less money, continue to have the highest overall obesity rates:

* Adult obesity rates in Oklahoma were 41.3 percent for Blacks. Nationally, obesity rates for Blacks topped 40 percent in 15 states, 35 percent in 35 states, and 30 percent in 42 states and D.C.
* Rates of adult obesity for Latinos were 30.3 percent in Oklahoma. National Latino obesity rates were above 35 percent in four states (Mississippi, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Texas) and at 30 percent and above in 23 states.
* Meanwhile, rates of adult obesity for Whites topped 30 percent in just four states (Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia) and no state had a rate higher than 32.1 percent. The rates of adult obesity for Whites were 29.7 percent in Oklahoma.
* Nearly 33 percent of adults who did not graduate high school are obese compared with 21.5 percent of adults who graduated from college or a technical college.
* More than 33 percent of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year were obese compared with 24.6 percent of adults who earn $50,000 or more per year.

The most recent state-by-state data on obesity rates for youth 10 to 17 are from 2007 and also were included in last year's report. According to the data, 16.4 percent of children and adolescents in Oklahoma are considered obese.

"The information in this report should spur us all - individuals and policymakers alike - to redouble our efforts to reverse this debilitating and costly epidemic," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A, RWJF president and CEO. "Changing policies is an important way to provide children and families with vital resources and opportunities to make healthier choices easier in their day-to-day lives."