Although Americans are exercising more, the obesity epidemic continues to expand, University of Washington researchers report.
Their nine-year study of data from two U.S. health surveys suggests that physical activity alone is not enough to combat the problem.
“While physical activity has improved noticeably in most counties, obesity has also continued to rise in nearly all counties,” said lead researcher Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, from the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
The obesity problem is directly related to how much Americans eat, said senior author Ali Mokdad, a professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
“Americans are not doing enough to control what they eat,” he said. They still consume more energy than they burn off through exercise, he said.
Big gains in physical activity were seen in counties in Kentucky, Georgia and Florida, but Kentucky’s Lewis County also had the biggest increase in male obesity — from about 29 percent in 2001 to about 45 percent in 2009. Western states claimed some of the most active counties, with residents of Wyoming’s Teton County the most active of all — with about 78 percent meeting recommended exercise guidelines.
Six of the eight least active counties were in Mississippi.
Increases in physical activity suggest that many communities have successfully adopted healthier lifestyles, likely through policies that promote physical activity, Dwyer-Lindgren said. >> Click here to read more