Obesity continues to plague the United States, despite all the efforts to combat the growing health crisis. Diet and exercise education programs are failing to break through to people, and even the First Lady’s vaunted obesity initiative has failed to dent the problem.

Both the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation relied on government data to reach the conclusion. Rates of obesity refused to decline in all 50 states, with 20 states now having at least 30% of their residents in the obese category.

The obesity rate for adults now exceeds 20% in every state, with some states posting staggering numbers. Two states have rates above 35% for the first time, Mississippi and West Virginia.

Nationally, around one-third of the population is obese, while two-thirds are overweight or worse. One piece of good news is that the rate of childhood obesity has leveled off, with about one-third of all 2-19-year-olds considered obese.

The figures also tracked the widening food gap that tracks with the wealth gap. One-third of adults that made less than $15,000 suffered from obesity. This dropped to 25% for adults making more than $50,000.

Ethnic divides also set up for weight issues. 75% of African-Americans were overweight, while just 67% of whites suffered from being overweight.

Researchers are pointing to the growing food deserts for those in urban areas and the lack of safe neighborhoods. You’re not exactly going to start a running club if your neighborhood has more shootings than Baghdad.

The longest trend line emerging from the data is the South. It was home to 9 of the 10 states with the most obesity. The Northeast and West had the lowest rates of obesity, with Colorado boasting the lowest rate of 21.3%. Not exactly a rate to write home about, but it’s the best in the nation.

Even with the push for more exercise and healthier eating choices, America’s waistline continues to expand. It may be time to use that brain training to get us to want the vegetables over the buffet dinner.

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