Report: Illinois is the fattest it's ever been

July 7, 2011

(AP/Toby Talbot)

The results are in: Illinois is tipping the scale, and it out-weights almost half of the country.

A new report from the Trust for America's Health states that Illinois is the fattest it's ever been. According to the study, the state's obesity rate has increased more than 80 percent over the last 15 years.

Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said one of the main factors for this increase is the vast number of food deserts in Illinois. Food deserts are areas where residents have little or no access to grocery stores or fresh produce, and are forced to buy groceries from convenience stores or gas stations.

"There have been different studies and so forth that show the cost for soda is cheaper than a gallon of milk, so if that being the case then you know you're having that sugary beverage which has the empty calories, doesn't give you the nutrition, and can lead to obesity," Arnold said.

Assistant Professor Margarita Tarin-Garcia, of the University of Illinois, said the solution to the obesity problem is education -- and starting it as early as possible. She said parents need to educate their children right away, and are better off not having any junk food snacks within their children's reach.

"If the parents have the choice to buy popcorn without butter or with low amounts of sodium, and there is nothing else to snack on in the house, what will the kid do? He will have to eat what's there," Tarin-Garcia said.

This study, called F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future in 2011, ranks the obesity rates by state. Illinois weighed in at the 23rd spot, while Mississippi took first place. The least obese state was Colorado, with an obesity rate of 19.8 percent.

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