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Obesity Continues to Rise in the U.S.

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The proportion of U.S. adults who are obese increased to 26.1
percent in 2008 compared to 25.6 percent in 2007. The data come from
CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a state-based phone survey that collects health information from adults aged 18 and over.

six states – Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee
and West Virginia – adult obesity prevalence was 30 percent or more. Thirty-two states, including those six, had obesity prevalence of 25
percent or more. Only one state, Colorado, had a prevalence of obesity
less than 20 percent. But no state showed a significant decrease in
obesity prevalence from 2007 to 2008.

More than
400,000 U.S. adults were surveyed in the 2008 BRFSS, which is the
world’s largest telephone health survey. To assess obesity prevalence,
survey respondents are asked to provide their height and weight, which
is used to calculate their body mass index (BMI). A person is considered obese if they have a BMI of 30 or above.

is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases such as heart disease
and diabetes. As obesity increases among all age groups, we are seeing
chronic diseases in much younger adults compared to a few decades ago,”
said Dr. William Dietz, director, CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. “For example, we now see young adults who suffer from heart disease
risk factors and other conditions such as type 2 diabetes that were
unheard of in the past.”

2008 BRFSS obesity data indicate that none of the 50 states or the
District of Columbia has achieved the Healthy People 2010 goal of
reducing obesity prevalence to 15 percent or less.

latest BRFSS survey data show that the obesity problem in this country
is getting worse,” said Liping Pan, CDC epidemiologist and lead author
of the 2008 BRFSS obesity map analysis. “If this trend continues we
will likely see increases in health care costs for obesity related

For more information on obesity trends, including an animated map, visit


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