F as in Fat 2008

How Obesity Policies are Failing in America

August 2008

ObesityAdult obesity rates increased in 37 states in the past year, according to the fifth annual F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America, 2008 report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Rates rose for a second consecutive year in 24 states and for a third consecutive year in 19 states. No state saw a decrease. Though many promising policies have emerged to promote physical activity and good nutrition in communities, the report concludes that they are not being adopted or implemented at levels needed to turn around this health crisis.

More than 25 percent of adults are obese in 28 states, which is an increase from 19 states last year. More than 20 percent of adults are obese in every state except Colorado. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent. In 1980, the national average of obese adults was 15 percent.

Recommendations for Combating Obesity

The report calls on the federal government to convene partners from state and local governments, businesses, communities, and schools to create and implement a realistic, comprehensive National Strategy to Combat Obesity. Some key policy recommendations include:

  • Investing in effective community-based disease-prevention programs that promote increased physical activity and good nutrition;
  • Improving the nutritional quality of foods available in schools and childcare programs;
  • Increasing the amount and quality of physical education and activity in schools and childcare programs;
  • Increasing access to safe, accessible places for physical activity in communities. Examples include creating and maintaining parks, sidewalks and bike lanes and providing incentives for smart growth designs that make communities more livable and walkable;
  • Improving access to affordable nutritious foods by providing incentives for grocery stores and farmers' markets to locate in underserved communities;
  • Encouraging limits on screen time for children through school-based curricula and media literacy resources;
  • Eliminating the marketing of junk food to kids;
  • Encouraging employers to provide workplace wellness programs;
  • Requiring public and private insurers to provide preventive services, including nutrition counseling for children and adults; and
  • Providing people with the information they need about nutrition and activity to make educated decisions, including point-of-purchase information about the nutrition and calorie content of foods.

2008 Report (3.09MB .pdf)

TFAH Release: New Report: Adult Obesity Rates Rise in 37 States, Obesity Rates Now Exceed 25% in More Than Half of States

Supplement to Report: Obesity-Related Legislative Action in States, 2008 Update

Statement from Mark Shriver of Save the Children

Statement from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD)

RWJF TV Health Series Broadcast on Report