Michiganders Getting Fatter as Nation’s Obese Shed a Few Pounds

Obesity rates declined nationally for the first time since 1998 in America’s Health Rankings, but Michigan sees 5 percent increase in obesity as state slips to No. 34 overall.

Obesity ballooned by 5 percent from 2012 in America's Health Rankings, with more than 2.5 million adults in Michigan considered obese. Patch file photo
Obesity ballooned by 5 percent from 2012 in America's Health Rankings, with more than 2.5 million adults in Michigan considered obese. Patch file photo

Michigan residents need to lighten up  (we're the nation's 10th fattest state), stop smoking and binge drinking, and stop engaging in violent crime to bring the state above the middle of the pack in America’s Health Rankings, an annual state-by-state tracking of health-care measures released today.

Michigan ranked 34th in the analysis that found Hawaii as the healthiest and Mississippi as the least healthiest states. Last year, Michigan ranked 33rd in the annual ranking compiled by United Health Foundation and its partners, the American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention, using data from a variety of government sources and professional industry groups.

Nationally, Americans are generally healthier than they were last year due in large part to behavioral changes, especially as they relate to smoking and physical inactivity.

Of Michigan’s health challenges, obesity is one of the greatest. The state saw an increase of about 5 percent in adult obesity, with 31.1 percent of residents considered obese, compared with 27.6 percent nationally.

Michigan ranks 40th among U.S. states in obesity and 34th in incidence of diabetes.

Still, 2.5 million adults in Michigan are considered obese and 1.9 million considered physically inactive.

Nationally, this year’s obesity rate represents a slight decline from last year’s rate of 27.8, and 2013 was first year since 1998 that obesity declined.

Dr. Reed Tuckson, United Health Foundation’s external senior medical adviser, said in a news release that he hopes the leveling off of the obesity rate is a sign of further improvement to come.

“We should certainly celebrate these gains,” Tuckson said, but much work needs to be done in reducing diabetes, health disease and other chronic health conditions related to obesity “that compromise Americans’ health and vitality.”

Michigan also got low marks for the percent of adults who smoke. The state is ranked 39th nationally, with 23.3 adults – almost 1.9 million adults – regularly lighting up. Nationally, the smoking rate among adults dropped to 19.6 percent, down from 21.2 percent.

Some of the other findings in Michigan:

  • Though still cited as a problem, violent crime has decreased by 22 percent over the past 10 years, down to 455 offenses per 100,000. At the beginning of the period, there were 555 violent offenses per 100,000.
  • Fewer children – 19.2 percent of persons under 18, compared with 22.7 a year ago – are living in poverty.
  • In the past five years, air pollution decreased by 40 percent to 9.3, down from 13.0, micrograms of fine particulate per cubic meter.
  • More Michiganders are getting immunized, with the 60.2 percent of adolescents 13-17 years getting vaccinations, compared with 68 percent in 2012.
  • 52.7 percent of adults aged 25 years and older with at least a high school education report their health is very good or excellent compared to only 25.6 percent with less than a high school education, resulting in a gap of 27.1 percent.

Though Michigan as a state struggles with obesity and in other measures, some of the state’s strengths were a low percentage of uninsured residents, little disparity in health status by educational attainment, and a low incidence of Salmonella infections.

The annual America’s Health Rankings is based on data from the US Departments of Health and Human Services, Commerce, Education, Justice and Labor; US Environmental Protection Agency; US Census Bureau; the American Medical Association; the American Dental Association; the Dartmouth Atlas Project; and the Trust for America’s Health

United Health Foundation, the insurer’s nonprofit foundation, provides a variety of tools to help communities and individuals make healthy choices, including customizable reports, enhanced social media and other innovative online resources on americashealthrankings.org, where the full report can be downloaded.


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