F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2006


Publication Date:

Publisher: Trust for America's Health

Author(s): Trust for America's Health

Research Area: Health

Type: Report


Too many American adults and children are overweight or obese, and the trend is not getting any better. Being overweight or obese increases an individual's risk of developing 35 major diseases. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also estimates the epidemic is costing the nation more than $117 billion each year in medical costs and lost productivity.

Beyond personal choices about eating and exercise habits, many other factors influence obesity. Among them are the cheap price and heavy marketing of high-fat, high-calorie foods; the disappearance of physical education from our nation's schools; and the lack of safe places for children and families to play and exercise. Obesity is a major and growing public health concern that requires multiple policy approaches to support healthier behaviors.

In 2003, 2004 and now 2006, Trust for America's Health has issued reports on the state of America's obesity crisis. Key findings from the 2006 report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America—2006:

* Since last year, only one state, Nevada, reduced adult obesity rates.
* In 43 states and the District of Columbia, 20 percent or more of adults are obese. That's an increase of three states since last year.
* In 13 states (three more states than last year) adult obesity rates exceed 25 percent.
* The least obese states are Colorado (16.9 percent obese adults), Hawaii (18.2 percent), Massachusetts (18.6 percent), and Rhode Island and Vermont (19.5 percent). Other states with the lowest rates of obesity are in the northeast and west.
* There are 28 states in which 60 percent of adults are either obese or overweight—the two highest weight categories.

The report's recommendations:

* Develop, implement and fully fund long-term strategies. Efforts to combat the obesity crisis will not be successful until there is a sustained focus on well-funded, long-term approaches to solving the problem.
* Fast track research to support public health strategies. More research is needed to help define which interventions work best for obesity prevention and reduction.
* State and local governments should address obesity as a governmentwide and community-wide challenge.
* Act now. Schools and workplaces should take immediate action, and the federal government should place the obesity issue at the top of the national agenda.