Americans just keep getting fatter. Obesity levels have dramatically increased in the U.S. during the last 15 years, according to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
But Californians are better off than others. The report revealed that California is the 12th least obese state in the nation, with 24.8 percent of the adult population qualifying as obese. This is nearly 10 percent less than the worst state, Mississippi, which tops the chart at 34.4 percent.
Fifteen years ago, California was ranked 32nd most obese state in the nation at nearly 14 percent. While the overall percentage has nearly doubled since then, other states seem to have a more dramatic acceleration.
Considering California has the highest population in the country, coming in at 12th least obese is quite a feat.
Dr. Matthew Allison, an associate professor in Family and Preventive Medicine at UC San Diego, attributes preventative forms of health care for the low ranking.
“California, in general, tries to be more health conscious,” he said.
Thanks to programs offering nutritional counseling and doctors encouraging their patients to take control of their health, Californians have lowered risk factors compared to some other states.
The increased activity level of Californians is also beneficial. California is among the top 20 states with elevated activity levels, according to a study released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Cities such as San Diego and Los Angeles have practically ideal weather conditions for being active outside.
Although the obesity rate is significantly lower in California, the percentage of people who qualify as overweight is 36.6 percent — meaning roughly two-thirds of Californians are overweight or obese. Additionally, the obesity rate in California increased by 78 percent in the last 15 years.
This dangerous trend shows that Americans may continue eating their way to unhealthy levels. In the last 15 years, none of the states decreased in obesity levels and the report demonstrated an upward trend.
Allison said he did not foresee the obesity levels leveling off, but state and national efforts to improve the situation are increasing.
School meal standards, competitive food offerings and regulation for physical education are just a few of the ways California is trying to fight obesity. National efforts include programs target toward children, such as Let’s Move and We Can.
To see where each state ranks check out the interactive map from Trust for America's Health.