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Rate of Childhood Obesity, Overweight Varies by State

Obesity prevalence in 2007 ranged from 9.6 percent in Oregon to 21.9 percent in Mississippi

MONDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- In 2007, there were substantial geographic disparities in childhood overweight and obesity, with the prevalence increasing in many states from 2003 to 2007, according to data published online May 3 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

In an effort to assess state-specific obesity and overweight prevalence, Gopal K. Singh, Ph.D., of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Rockville, Md., and colleagues evaluated 46,707 and 44,101 10- to 17-year-old children in 2003 and 2007, respectively, using the National Survey of Children's Health data.

The researchers found that, in 2007, 16.4 and 31.6 percent of children were obese and overweight, respectively. The prevalence of obesity varied greatly across the states, with Oregon having the lowest prevalence (9.6 percent) and Mississippi the highest (21.9 percent). Compared with children in Oregon, those in Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia and Kansas had more than twice the adjusted odds of being obese. The prevalence of being overweight also varied, with Mississippi having the highest prevalence (44.5 percent) and Utah the lowest (23.1 percent). In addition, from 2003 to 2007, the prevalence of obesity increased 10 percent among all U.S. children, and 18 percent among female children, while doubling among female children in Arizona and Kansas.

"Individual, household, and neighborhood social and built environmental characteristics accounted for 45 and 42 percent of the state variance in childhood obesity and overweight, respectively," the authors write.

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