REPORT: Hawaii's obesity rate continues climbing

Published On: Aug 21 2013 10:11:00 AM HST
Childhood obesity

Despite the Hawaii's continual ranking as one of the healthiest states in the country, a report tracking the obesity rate in the U.S. determined that Hawaii's rate of obesity continues to climb along with the national trend.

The study, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future in 2013", conducted by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation projects that at the current rate more than half of Hawaii's adults will be obese by 2030.

The numbers for Hawaii in 2012 indicated: a 23.6% obesity rate amongst adults (age group 26-44 showing the largest rate with 29.1%) with a 7.8% diabetes rate and 13.2% obesity rate amongst high school students.

While Hawaii ranked low in comparison with the other 50 states (ranked 47; beat out by: Colorado, D.C. And Massachusetts in descending order) state health officials are concerned about our continued rise mirroring the national trend.

"Nearly one-quarter of Hawaii adults are obese, and some population groups have much higher rates. Obesity is an epidemic, and we cannot afford to sit back idly on this issue."  said Director of Health Loretta Fuddy.

 According to the report, adult obesity in Hawaii has increased nearly three times from what it was a little over 20 years ago. In the past year alone, obesity has risen more than seven percent.

The report also shows a large disparity of obese people within the ethnic diversity of the islands, with higher rates among native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander populations. While adult obesity in 2011 was 21.9 % for the overall state, rates ranged from 6.8 % among Chinese, to 20.6 & among Filipinos, to 40.8 & among Native Hawaiians.

Not only is obesity in general increasing in Hawaii, but the proportion of adults who are morbidly or excessively obese in Hawaii is also increasing. In 2011, there were 30,000 morbidly obese adults in Hawaii-roughly 3 percent of the population.  

Health officials say obesity is costly to our state pocket books. Hawaii spends an estimated $470 million annually on obesity-related medical costs, and $770 million on diabetes-related medical costs. Such costs are encouraging health officials to take a legislative approach towards curbing the increasing trend.

"We need to move forward policy, systems and environmental changes to curb rising obesity rates and costs," said Director Fuddy. "We must continue to work together across diverse public and private organizations, governmental agencies, and communities so healthy choices are the desirable easy decisions."   

State's who recorded the highest rate of obesity according to the report included: Louisiana (34.7%), Mississippi (34.6%) and Arkansas (34.5%).


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