More than one-third of residents in 12 states are considered obese. The states with the highest obesity rates are mainly in the Midwest and South, according to analysis released Monday by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Mississippi has the nation's highest obesity rate, topping off at 34.9 percent.
Colorado residents are ranked least obese, with a rate of 20.7 percent.
"Obesity has contributed to a stunning rise in chronic disease rates and health care costs. It is one of the biggest health crises the country has ever faced," says Jeffrey Levi, TFAH executive director.
"The good news is that we have a growing body of evidence and approaches that we know can help reduce obesity, improve nutrition and increase physical activity based on making healthier choices easier for Americans. The bad news is we're not investing anywhere near what we need to in order to bend the obesity curve and see the returns in terms of health and savings."
In 2006, obesity-related medical costs totaled $147 billion a year, or nearly 10 percent of total medical spending, according to a 2011 study in Health Affairs. The bulk of the spending is generated from treating obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes.
"Our nation has made important inroads to creating healthier communities," says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, RWJF president and CEO. "Some cities and states that have taken comprehensive action to address the epidemic are beginning to see declines in their obesity rates. But we need to expand and intensify our efforts. Investing in prevention today will mean a healthier tomorrow for our children."
[image source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]