Americans Growing More Obese, Report Says

By |February 26th, 2016|Expert Insight|

Maybe no surprise…Americans are growing more obese and exercising less, according to reports that look at data compiled by the Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, the U.S. Department of Education, and other agencies and organizations.

The 2014 America’s Health Rankings published by the United Health Foundation in December shows that the U.S. obesity rate increased from 27.6 percent to 29.4 percent of adults in the past year. The report also shows that the percentage of adults who claimed they had not done any physical activity in the last 30 days increased, going from 22.9 percent to 23.5 percent over the past year. Where do you suppose these numbers will be for 2016? We would like to think positively about this and work as an industry of fitness enthusiast to turn these numbers around.

According to the UHF website, the Rankings was built upon the WHO definition of health. That is, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

According to the UHF, the Rankings was “based on the premise that determinants of health directly influence health outcomes.” Those determinants are divided into four categories:

  1. behavior
  2. community and environment
  3. policy, and
  4. clinical care.

The organization says that, while the Rankings model has evolved over the last 25 years since the report was first published, there is still an emphasis on health determinants, which now account for three-quarters of each state’s final ranking.

The Rankings compare each state’s health with that of all others states for a single year. While they don’t track the progress of the nation’s overall health over time, they do furnish a snapshot of state health from year to year. The UHF points out, however, that measures of premature death, defined as the number of years not lived by people who die before age 75, can be used to look at the country’s health over time, since that measure “strongly correlates with the final outcome score (r=0.92) of the Rankings.”

Despite the uptick in obesity and the downtick in the number of people who say they exercise over the past year, some encouraging figures did emerge from the report.

Findings in other health-related categories include:

  • A 3% decrease in smoking (19.6 percent to 19 percent of adults over the past year).
  • A 5% increase in teen immunization coverage (64 percent to 67.1 percent of teens ages 13 to 17 over the past year).
  • A 10% increase in high school graduation rates (73.4 percent to 81 percent of incoming ninth graders over the past five years).
  • A 22% drop in preventable hospitalizations (80.6 hospitalizations per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries to 62.9 hospitalizations per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries, over the last 10 years).
  • A 23% decrease in air pollution (12.8 micrograms of fine particulars per cubic meter, to 9.9 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter, over the last 10 years).
  • A 41% decrease in infant mortality (10.2 deaths for every 1,000 live births to 6 deaths for every 1,000 live births since 1990).

According to the report, the state that scored the lowest was Mississippi, which ranked 50th; at the other end of the scale was Hawaii.


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