The numbers are in, and they aren't pretty.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that overall, more than a third of adults are obese. The latest figures are based on a 2011 telephone survey that asked adults their height and weight. For the first time, households with only cell phones were included.
State rates remained about the same although states with very high rates went from nine to 12. At least 30 percent of adults are obese in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. The percentage of obese adults in Ohio came in just under 30 percent at 29.6 percent.
Colorado was lowest, at just under 21 percent, and Mississippi was highest at nearly 36 percent.
Just last week it was reported that laws curbing the sale of junk food to kids at school can make a difference in the number of obese children. Fewer obese kids could mean fewer obese adults, so it's essential that the answer to the obesity epidemic is an answer geared to kids and adults both.
Recent data suggest that almost 20 percent of elementary school children nationwide are obese, and the rate among teens is only slightly lower.
That's why laws governing food and drinks sold in public school vending machines and school stores, outside of mealtime, are so important. To be effective, laws must include specific nutrition requirements, such as limits on sugar and fats, and they need to be consistently strong in all grades. We must educate young people, teaching them healthy habits early on, if we hope to turn the rising tide of adult obesity.