LOS ANGELES — — Ready for this one? Americans are fat. More accurate, Americans are still fat, including in South Carolina.
The federal government released its “obesity map” on Monday, outlining the rates of obesity and how rates in the states compare. Colorado gets the svelte bragging rights, with 20.7 percent of its adults obese. At the other end of the scale is Mississippi, with a rate of 34.9 percent.
The CDC has published all the states’ figures at www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html.
South Carolina is among several states with a high obesity rate. In 2010, 67.4 percent of all S.C. adults were either overweight or obese, with 35.4 percent considered overweight and 32 percent considered obese, according to the 2011 South Carolina Obesity Burden Report. Horry County ranks 14 and Georgetown County ranks 19 in the state of adults who were overweight or obese, according to the report.
In South Carolina, 23.9 percent of Horry County adults and 25.1 percent of Georgetown County adults engage in no leisure-time physical activity, according to the report. In Horry County, 87.3 percent of adults consume less than five fruits and vegetables daily. In Georgetown County, 86.3 percent of adults are not meeting the fruits and vegetables recommendation.
Last year, 29.6 percent of all S.C. high school students were either overweight or obese, with males more likely to be overweight or obese than females, according to the report.
Horry is the county in the state with the highest Retail Food Environment Index, with an estimated 10 fast food outlets or convenience stores for every grocery store, according to the report.
The index is a ratio that describes the relative abundance of different types of retail food outlets in an area. Allendale County has the lowest retail food index in the state, with an estimated 1.4 fast food outlet or convenience store for every grocery store, according to the report. Allendale, however, had the highest percentage, 88.5 percent, of adults overweight or obese.
Overall, the obesity rate for the South was 29.5 percent, followed by the Midwest at 29 percent, the Northeast at 25.3 percent and the West at 24.3 percent.
The figures are based on data from what’s called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The figures can’t be compared with previous years because of changes in methodology. One of those changes was to include households without landline phones, only cellphones. The CDC says the changes were intended to make the figures more accurate.
But the agency says its measures are one of several ways rates of obesity are monitored in this country, and it notes that whichever is used, “the obesity epidemic is still a major public health problem.”
For example, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that more than a third of adults and almost 17 percent of young people were obese in 2009-10.
“Obesity has contributed to a stunning rise in chronic disease rates and healthcare costs. It is one of the biggest health crises the country has ever faced,” Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health, said in a statement. “The good news is that we have a growing body of evidence and approaches that we know can help reduce obesity, improve nutrition and increase physical activity based on making healthier choices easier for Americans. The bad news is we’re not investing anywhere near what we need to in order to bend the obesity curve and see the returns in terms of health and savings.”
Later this summer, Lev’s group and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are expected to release a report analyzing the rates and the policy efforts to curb obesity.
In 2006, obesity-related medical costs totaled $147 billion a year, or nearly 10 percent of total medical spending, according to a 2011 study in Health Affairs.
Earlier this year, the Institute of Medicine outlined ways to reverse obesity, including a commitment to making physical activity a more integrated part of life, creating food environments that encourage healthful choices and making schools a focus of the efforts.
The Sun News staff writer Janelle Frost contributed to this report.