Georgia slid slightly in obesity rankings and South Carolina stayed in the top 10 for adults while its adolescents are among the heaviest in the nation, according to a recently released report.
Although there was some good news that the obesity rate was largely unchanged for most states, the rate among the extremely obese continues to rise.
The “F as in Fat” report is released annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health.
Georgia adults were ranked 20th, at 29.1 percent obese, down slightly from 24th last year when 28 percent were obese. Georgia just missed joining what has been called “the dirty 30,” or the 13 states that have adult obesity rates above 30 percent, which includes South Carolina. That state’s adults moved from a tie for eight last year, at 30.8 percent, to seventh, at 31.6 percent obese.
Among residents 10 to 17 years old, South Carolina had the second highest rate at 21.5 percent obese, just behind Mississippi at 21.7 percent. The high obesity levels could already have serious health implications for those children, said Pam Brisky, the clinical nutrition manager at Georgia Regents Medical Center.
A report from the National Institutes of Health last year found a notable rate of Type II diabetes in those younger than age 18 in South Carolina, she said.
“Type II diabetes is a chronic disease, it is a progressive disease,” Brisky said. “The likelihood of having vision problems and cardiovascular disease all increase substantially with type II.”
Also alarming was the rising rate of “extreme” obesity, those with a body mass index above 40, which climbed in the past 30 years from 1.4 percent to 6.3 percent and now includes 5.1 percent of males and 4.7 percent of females younger than 19, according to the report.
Brisky said she has seen that same increase among patients and attributes part of it to patients “giving up” and continuing poor habits that continue to fuel their weight gain.
“The biggest frustration for folks who are morbidly obese is finding that motivation to make a change,” she said. “Eating is an active part of their lifestyle, and they have to find something to take its place.”
That there was a relative leveling off is something of a positive to Brisky, and she said she hopes it is because people are starting to listen to the message to get healthier.
“If the leveling off is because people are starting to do that, then hopefully future reports will show that there’s a decrease,” she said.