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Land of the Fat

Waistlines in Massachusetts are among the thinnest in the country and are growing at a slower rate than in many other states. That's according to a new study by an advocacy group called Trust for America's Health. In this latest study, on average, 22.7 percent of adults in the United States were considered obese, up from 22 percent.

Dr. Shelley Hearne, executive director of Trust for America's Health, said the study used data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and looked at averages over time. According to the study, Massachusetts is the second least-obese state in the nation.

"But let me point out, even though Massachusetts is faring better than its fellow states, it's still above where we would want the nation to be," said Hearne.

According to a national goal set by the Department of Health and Human Services, every state's population should be 15 percent or less obese. Massachusetts is 17.8 percent obese.

"Unfortunately, we're seeing an absolute ballooning of waistlines across the board. We now have as many as 65 percent of Americans either overweight or obese, and what's most troubling is that we're seeing this happen in our youngest populations. In the past 20 yrs, we have twice as many children obese than we did back in the 80s. That's bad news for the country," said Hearne.

None of the 50 states lost weight. The only exception this year was Oregon, which did not see a weight increase. So, what should be done about the problem?

"We need to encourage people to be eating healthier, and getting out and exercising more. But where we can help control that best in some of the basic, common sense government policies...things like the food pyramid, make that accessible to people, make it understandable to people so that kids get it, as to what it means to be eating healthy."

WBUR's Delores Handy-Brown has more with Dr. Hearne.

This program aired on August 24, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.

Delores Handy Twitter Reporter
Delores Handy was formerly a host and reporter at WBUR.

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