Two reports released last week underscored the increasing severity of America's obesity epidemic. The eye-opening findings add to the mounting evidence that stopping the spread of obesity and its attendant health risks will require changes to the nation’s transportation system as surely as it demands altering our diets, Adam Voiland of DC StreetsBlog said Aug. 9 in an article available here.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Aug. 3 showed the number of obese Americans has increased by 2.4 million since 2007. There are now nine states where more than 30 percent of the population qualifies as obese — up from three states in 2007. Just ten years ago, no state had an obesity level above 30 percent.
On Aug. 4, Gallup released a ranking of the nation’s most and least obese states as part of a broader index of well-being. By its accounting, a cluster of states in the southeast — West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, and South Carolina — have the highest rates of obesity, while the thinnest states, mainly in the West and New England, tend to have obesity rates about ten percent lower.
Three of the five most obese states in the Gallup ranking are also among the five states with the smallest percentage of people who bike to work. At the other end of the spectrum, four of the ten thinnest states are among those where people bike to work most frequently. When walking is part of a commute, people also area less apt to be obese. Voiland said that according to analysis by Rutgers University planning professor John Pucher and his colleagues, differences in transportation choices account for nearly a third of the variation in obesity rate among states.