California Has Fifth-Lowest Obesity Rate in U.S., Study Finds
Details of Study
The study was conducted by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
The report identified obesity rates among each state and all age groups. It also distinguished differences in obesity rates based on:
- Location; and
- Race (Kaplan, "Science Now," Los Angeles Times, 9/4).
CDC defines obesity as body mass index of 30 or higher for adults.
Overall, the study found that obesity rates among adults increased in six states in the last year.
Mississippi and West Virginia had the highest obesity rates, at 35.1%, while Colorado had the lowest rate, at 21.3%.
In addition, the study found that about 17% of children ages two to 19 in the U.S. were obese (Salazar, McClatchy/Sacramento Bee, 9/4).
In California, the study found that the state's obesity rate in 2013 was the fifth lowest nationwide, at 24.1% -- the same as Utah ("Science Now," Los Angeles Times, 9/4). However, the rate increased from 9.9% in 1990 and 21.5% in 2004.
According to the study, California's obesity rate by age group was:
- 29.3% among residents ages 45 to 64;
- 25.5% among residents ages 26 to 44;
- 21.5% among residents ages 65 and older; and
- 13.9% among residents ages 18 to 25.
Meanwhile, California was one of the few states to see an improvement in the obesity rate among children ages two to four in low-income families, with its rate falling from 17.3% in 2010 to 16.8% in 2011.
The study also noted disparities by race among California residents. Specifically:
- 34.8% of black residents were obese;
- 30.7% of Latino residents were obese: and
- 22.4% of white residents were obese.
According to researchers, cases of certain chronic health conditions -- including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension -- are likely to increase significantly by 2030 if current obesity rates in the state persist.
The study noted that California has implemented 10 public policies aimed at reducing obesity rates, including measures to:
- Boost physical education requirements;
- Improve nutrition standards for foods in schools; and
- Increase health assessments and screenings.
However, the study noted that California has not implemented policies to:
- Limit competitive foods in schools; and
- Increase physical activity requirements (TAH/RWJF study, 9/4).