The Trust for America’s Health released its annual report of obesity and overweight rankings of US states. In F as in Fat: 2009, Hawaii fared well at 5th lowest in the nation for adult obesity at 21.8%. But the news is not so good for Hawaii’s children. Hawaii ranks 37th in nation for overweight kids, at 28.5%. Worryingly across the US, the percentage of obese and overweight children is at or above 30 percent in 30 states, according to the report. Adult obesity rates now exceed 25 percent in 31 states. Rates are highest among Baby Boomers, suggesting this trend may worsen with age.
The report cites three main reasons for the crisis: poor diet, lack of exercise and economic problems. Only recently have some states, including Hawaii, adopted nutritional guidelines for foods sold in vending machines on campuses. Most states have passed body mass index (BMI) requriements for children, but Hawaii has not yet adopted any measures of weight in school health programs. Most schools already lacked funds for physical and health education; in the face of the recent economic crisis, funding for schools will decrease further.
The report also offers suggestions of how to address the problem, including:
- Provide healthy foods and beverages to students at schools;
- Increase the availability of affordable healthy foods in all communities;
- Increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of physical activity at school;
- Improve access to safe and healthy places to live, work, learn, and play;
- Limit screen time; and
- Encourage employers to provide workplace wellness programs.