- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2012

D.C. residents are among the fittest in the nation. But that isn’t saying much.

Information released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the District among the national leaders in the lowest rates of adult obesity, with 23.7 percent of city residents considered obese.

The D.C. Department of Health said it continues to study social factors that cause obesity rates to rise while and promoting healthy eating and physical activity. Partnerships with initiatives like Capital Bikeshare and the D.C. Healthy Corner Store Program, which promotes access to fresh produce and low-fat foods in needy neighborhoods, also play a role in the city’s efforts, according to the agency.

“Obesity, the elimination of food desserts and collaborating with the Department of Parks and Recreation to give residents access to safe places to exercise remain a top priority for the Department of Health,” DOH spokeswoman Najma Roberts said.

Colorado was the fittest state in the nation, with 20.7 percent of its residents classified as obese, which means they have a body mass index higher than 30. Hawaii and Massachusetts has lower obesity rates than the District, while New Jersey had the same rate.

Maryland recorded a 28.3 percent rate, while 29.2 percent of Virginia residents were classified as obese.

The highest rate in the country was recorded in Mississippi, where 34.9 percent of residents are obese.

The rates seemed to play into traditional regional stereotypes, with many Southern states recording obesity rates upward of 30 percent, while states in the West and Southwest recorded rates between 5 and 10 points lower.

Regionally, the South had the highest prevalence of obesity at 29.5 percent, followed by the Midwest at 29 percent, the Northeast at 25.3 percent and the West at 24.3 percent.

The CDC warned that the results would defy comparison to previous years because of changes this year in the methodology of its Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The system, which collects information voluntarily via phone survey, began including information from cellphone and mobile phone users rather than traditional land line users, a difference that researchers say makes this year’s survey incompatible with prior years’ figures.

The CDC says 35 percent of Americans are obese, a condition that leaves them at greater risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

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