The Growing Obesity Issue and Its Link to Diabetes [INFOGRAPHIC]
The “F as in Fat: How obesity threatens America’s future” report by Trust for American’s Health has been released annually since 2006 and has been an important measuring stick for the nation’s battle with obesity. While the full contents of the report could take multiple posts to truly analyze, I chose instead to do a deep dive into the report’s diabetes-related information. For me, the most interesting aspect of the report is the data behind the population of those living with diabetes, how diabetes rates are distributed across the U.S., and how the statistics have evolved throughout the years.
First, let’s talk briefly about some of the overall trends and stats found in the report. In short, as a country we’re continuing to gain weight. Twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15%. Now, more than 2/3 of states have obesity rates above 25% and 12 states have obesity rates above 30%. The state with the highest obesity rate is Mississippi with 34.4% and the lowest obesity rate is Colorado with 19.8%.
- In eight states, more than 10 percent of adults have now been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
- Adult diabetes rates increased in 11 states and in Washington, D.C., over the last year.
- Alabama carries the highest rate of diabetes at 12.2%. In fact, the entire south region ranks very high in its percentage of obesity and diabetes.
- The top five rounds out with West Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. On the other end of the spectrum, Alaska and Colorado had the lowest rate of diabetes at 5.9%. Those are the only two states below 6%.
The “Diabetes Belt”
The report also details what some scientists are calling the “diabetes belt”, in reference to the 15 mostly southern states. A total of 644 counties make up the diabetes belt and the demographics show they feature a high number of people who are obese and lead sedentary lives. States with at least some of its counties in the diabetes belt include:
One of the other important concepts discussed in the report is the increase in diabetes rates that have occurred in recent years. For example, Louisiana has seen drastic increases of diabetes amongst its citizens over the past 20 years. In 1990, Louisiana had a diabetes rate of 5.3%, which would put them at the lowest level in the country today. Today, however, Louisiana has a rate of 10.7%, indicating that the state has doubled its diabetes rate in just two decades. It should also be noted that Louisiana’s obesity rate went from 12.3% to 31.6% in the same time period.
So what can we, as a country, do about these numbers? For starters, we can help one another become more aware of and educated about the foods we’re eating. We can then help each other strive to eat healthier. We can also encourage one another to engage in activities that get us off the couch and moving (literally) toward a healthier lifestyle.
We can also support organizations that are participating in research efforts or making recommendations for change. We know the White House and Michelle Obama are spearheading the Let’s Move and Choose My Plate campaigns as ways to help encourage the nation to live healthier lives. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is recommending changes to school nutrition, increasing availability to quality foods in lower-income areas, increasing physical activity in schools, increasing activity in communities, changing pricing to offer incentives and disincentives for healthy foods and reducing children’s exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods.
I, personally, am going to focus on incorporating more physical activity into my family’s lifestyle, such as taking family bike rides instead of opting to watch television. What are some other ways we can work toward lowering these numbers for 2012? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!
All the best,