Obesity Report: Same Story, Same Solution

It’s summertime, so once again the Trust for America’s Health has released its annual “F is for Fat” report with state-by-state obesity rates. Here’s the bottom line: America is still pretty fat. Twenty-eight states saw a rise in obesity rates over the past year, and only one (Colorado) has an obesity rate below 20 percent.

So what can we do to fight flab? The report offers a slew of fixes: improving school nutrition, helping health insurers offer better guidance, supporting farmers markets, appropriating more money toward obesity prevention, funding more research, and so forth.

Solution-by-government always sounds easy, but often isn’t when push comes to shove. Just look at Ohio, where teachers unions fought a proposal to increase daily exercise for schoolchildren. Something that seems like a no-brainer can easily get held up or derailed by special interests.

There’s another solution that’s also not radical—but is proven to actually work. Take a look at state-by-state physical inactivity rates in the report. Guess what? States that have a high coach potato rate also tend to have a high obesity rate. Mississippi takes the top spot in both categories. A total of eight states are in the top 10 in both categories. The opposite is also true: Colorado is slimmest state and has the second lowest inactivity rate, a trend also shared by Vermont, Utah, and Hawaii. These states are also known for their pedestrian-friendly infrastructures and options for outdoor activities.

Coincidence? Not likely. Given that weight ultimately comes down to an elementary equation—calories in minus calories out—it stands to reason that a lack of exercise can significantly impact the balance.

Waiting for new government food initiatives could involve years of delay, and ultimately may not even fix the problem. And there’s already a much simpler and faster way to fight fat: get moving. In other words, you can’t get buff if you’re on your duff.

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