In Georgia, 37.3 percent of children were obese or overweight, compared to 33.7 percent of children in South Carolina, which ranked 13th in the nation. In South Carolina, however, 29.7 percent of adults were overweight versus 27.9 percent of adults in Georgia, which ranked 14th in the country. Overall, eight of the 10 states with the highest rates of adult obesity are in the South, as are eight of the 10 states with the worst rates of overweight or obese children.
The current economic downturn may be adding to the problem, said Dr. Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for Americas Health.
Families are relying on cheap, fast, often less nutritious foods, he said.
The groups called for making preventive strategies a part of any national health care reform that is passed and stressed that communities also need to get involved.
We cannot solve this with medical care and personal choice alone, said Dr. James S. Marks, senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.