KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Americans Continue To Get Fatter, CDC Finds

The New York Times: "Americans are continuing to get fatter and fatter, with obesity rates reaching 30 percent or more in nine states last year, as opposed to only three states in 2007, health officials reported on Tuesday. The increases mean that 2.4 million more people became obese from 2007 to 2009, bringing the total to 72.5 million, or 26.7 percent of the population. The numbers are part of a continuing and ominous trend. But the rates are probably underestimates because they are based on a phone survey in which 400,000 participants were asked their weight and height instead of having it measured by someone else, and people have a notorious tendency to describe themselves as taller and lighter than they really are. … The report estimates the medical costs of obesity to be as high as $147 billion a year, and notes that 'past efforts and investments to prevent and control obesity have not been adequate'" (Grady, 8/3).

Kansas Health Institute: "The U.S. Surgeon General in 2001 set the goal of each state reducing its prevalence to 15 percent of the population by 2010. That target date has arrived and instead most states are moving the other direction. No state, not even the leanest, has met the 15 percent goal set a decade ago. … Colorado was the leanest state, according to the new report, with an obesity rate of 18.6 percent. … Kansas Department of Health and Environment has a number of programs aimed at reducing obesity, including help with community audits for figuring out the obstacles or impediments to exercise presented by lack of sidewalks or other infrastructure friendly to walking or bicycling. The agency also has helped promote farmers' markets" (Shields, 8/3).

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: "While the findings support a general trend, some groups were more seriously affected. Obesity has caused black women to lose the greatest amount of time spent in good health (more than 24 fewer such days per year). That number is 31 percent higher than for black men, who lost the second highest amount of healthy time due to being obese, and 50 percent higher than that of whites. Most of women's healthy days lost to obesity were due to illness, while most of the men's loss was due to early death, the study found. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 39 percent of black women and 31 percent of black men are now obese. Hispanics, with an obesity rate of 29 percent, tend to be slightly more obese than whites, at 24 percent, according to the CDC. But the amount of lost healthy time was about the same for both groups in the study" (Holohan, 8/3).

NPR: "Officials say states are going to have to work hard to stop the epidemic" (Neighmond, 8/4). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.