EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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August 22, 2013

N.H., Massachusetts obesity rates are steady

New Hampshire ranks 28th, Massachusetts is 49th

Congratulations, America. On average, residents aren’t tipping the scales at quite such an alarming increase.

But it’s not all good news.

Every state in the country — and in the District of Columbia — reports adult obesity rates above 20 percent, according to a recent report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Obesity rates top 30 percent in 13 states.

New England weighs in with lower obesity rates than other parts of the country, particularly than the South and Midwest.

But New Englanders, too, should hold off before celebrating with a slice of pie or double-scoop cone.

Massachusetts’ residents are comparatively svelte, ranking 49th of 51 for adult obesity. But even in the Bay State, 22.9 percent of adults are obese.

In New Hampshire, tied for 28th place, 27.3 percent of adults are obese.

The numbers in the report, “F as in Fat,” are staggering and of great concern to health officials, insurers and employers.

Obesity costs a lot of money — in health-care costs, individuals’ health risks, decreased productivity, and occupational and safety expenses.

The report follows some better news earlier in the month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported some progress in reducing childhood obesity. Those rates declined slightly in 19 states, including New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Still, about one in every eight American preschoolers is obese. Children who are overweight as preschoolers are about five times as likely to become overweight adults, according to the CDC.

That’s a really significant problem in Lawrence, with the highest childhood obesity rate in Massachusetts — 45 percent.

“We deal with adults, but we also make sure we stress, and have programs in place, that it’s not just them, it’s the family,” said Lisa Luz, program coordinator at Lawrence General Hospital’s Weight Management and Bariatric Center. “It’s not just treating the person, it’s treating the whole family.”

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