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Obesity map of the United States reveals the states where up to 40 per cent of Americans are dangerously overweight

TICKING TIMEBOMB

OBESITY levels have reached nearly 40 per cent in parts of the United States, a shocking new map shows.

The map shows in nine states - Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia reported - adult obesity is at or above 35 percent.

But in West Virginia and Mississippi that figure hits 39.5 per cent, data from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

Across the whole of the US, at least 20 per cent of adults are obese with the Colorado and Hawaii the healthiest.

Obesity costs the United States health care system over $147 billion a year and research has shown that obesity affects work productivity and military readiness, says CDC says.

When she was First Lady, Michelle Obama championed the cause of tackling childhood obesity.

But John Auerbach, president and CEO of the Trust for America's Health, which campaigns for action to tackle obesity, said individual campaigns weren't enough.

"These latest data shout that our national obesity crisis is getting worse," he said.

"Almost 50 years into the upward curve of obesity rates we haven't yet found the right mix of programs to stop the epidemic,” he said.

'GETTING WORSE'

"Isolated programs and calls for lifestyle changes aren't enough.

“Instead, our report highlights the fundamental changes that are needed in the social and economic conditions that make it challenging for people to eat healthy foods and get sufficient exercise."

The data comes from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an on-going state-based, telephone interview survey conducted by CDC and state health departments.

When the figures are broken down by education, 35 per cent of adults without a high school degree or equivalent were obese, the highest level, with the figure for college graduates 24.7 per cent.

Adults aged 18-24 years had the lowest self-reported obesity - 18.1 per cent - half the figure of adults aged 45-54 years.

Broken down by geography, 33.6 per cent of adults in the south were obese and the 33.1 per cent in the Midwest while in the Northeast it was 28 per cent and the West 26.9 per cent.

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