Health: Kentucky gets an F... as in Fat

By Judy Mattingly/FCHD Accreditation Coordinator, Published:

Kentucky’s 2011 adult obesity rate was 30.4 percent and if this trend continues it is projected that by 2030, 60.1 percent of Kentucky will be obese. Over the next 20 years, it is also predicted that obesity will contribute to dramatic increases in type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, hypertension, arthritis and cancer as well as a 17.6 percent increase in health care costs.

This is according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, a report recently released by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

This is the ninth edition of the report, but the first to predict future obesity rates, disease rates and related health care costs. The report also shows that if Kentucky lowered the average body mass index by just 5 percent, 387,255 obesity-related diseases could be prevented and $9,437,000,000 could be saved in health care costs by 2030.

“This study shows us two futures for America’s health,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “At every level of government, we must pursue policies that preserve health, prevent disease and reduce health care costs. Nothing less is acceptable.”

Nationally, the states with the highest 2011 adult obesity rates were: 1. Mississippi (34.9 percent); 2. Louisiana (33.4 percent); 3. West Virginia (32.4 percent); 4. Alabama (32.0 percent); 5. Michigan (31.3 percent); 6. Oklahoma (31.1 percent); 7. Arkansas (30.9 percent); 8. (tie) Indiana (30.8 percent); and South Carolina (30.8 percent); 10. (tie) Kentucky (30.4 percent); and Texas (30.4 percent).

Colorado was ranked the lowest with an adult obesity rate of 20.7 percent. By 2030, 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60 percent, 39 states could have rates above 50 percent, and all 50 states could have rates above 44 percent.

The Lane Report made an interesting worldwide comparison stating that “only 12 percent of the world counts as obese today. We (Kentucky) beat that two and half times over.”

TFAH and RWJF make a series of policy recommendations to prevent obesity and Jeff Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH said, “…policies like increasing physical activity time in schools and making fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable can help make healthier choices easier.”

The Franklin County MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) coalition, which includes more than 60 public health system partners, has already begun implementing many of these recommendations.

Goals in the MAPP Health Improvement Plan include encouraging physically active lifestyles and improving access to healthy food choices.

To date all public and private elementary schools in Franklin County have adopted a policy integrating at least 10 minutes of physical activity into the daily classroom setting; a statewide Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights has been passed and numerous students have participated in environmental education that increases physical activity; the City of Frankfort has added healthy options to the Juniper Hill pool concession stand; several childcare centers have implemented nutrition education and physical activity policies; several worksites have adopted healthy meeting food policies; and Franklin County Government has instituted a comprehensive worksite wellness policy providing incentives for improvements in health.

The MAPP Health Improvement Plan can be accessed at www.fchd.org and the full 2012 F as in Fat report is available at www.healthyamericans.org and www.rwjf.org.

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