In 2005, almost one in four American adults was obese. Obesity was even more prevalent among Hispanic and black adults, at 26.5 percent and 33.9 percent respectively. Moreover, the percentage of overweight young people has more than tripled since 1980. This growing epidemic has many causes, primary among them being physical inactivity and unhealthy eating.
Overweight and obesity contribute to numerous health problems such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, breathing problems, osteoarthritis and depression. The annual estimated cost of obesity to the United States was about $139 billion in 2003. The health costs associated with overweight and obesity now exceed those associated with tobacco use.
State legislators nationwide are actively pursuing solutions to America's obesity epidemic. While weight is greatly affected by individual behaviors, effective solutions require the combined efforts of policymakers and stakeholders throughout our communities. Schools, health care and insurance providers, representatives of agriculture and food industries, and businesses and employers are all working to confront the obesity epidemic and its effects.