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Hawai`i Residents Packing on the Pounds

Posted August 21, 2013, 09:39 AM HST Updated August 21, 2013, 11:04 AM HST
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Hawai`i residents are getting fatter on average, following national trends.

Barring a widespread change in lifestyles, more than half of Hawai`i’s adults will be obese by 2030, according to a new study.

The report, released yesterday by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shows that obesity in Hawaii continues to increase rapidly, consistent with national trends.

The report summarizes obesity rates in the United States and identifies states with rates of at least 25%. Every state in America has obesity rates above 20%.

Hawai`i State Director of Health Loretta J. Fuddy commented on the study, saying that “While Hawai`i has a lower obesity and chronic disease rate relative to many other jurisdictions, our state is following the same troubling path as the rest of the nation.”

The Trust report ranks Hawai`i 47th among all states for adult obesity, with 23.6 % of adult residents classified as significantly overweight.

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Adult obesity in Hawai`i has actually tripled over the last two decades, according to the report. Childhood obesity in the islands has also remained high, at 13.2%.

The highest rates of obesity in Hawai`i can be found among native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. 40.8% of native Hawaiians are significantly overweight, while only 6.8% of ethnic Chinese residents are obese.

Morbid obesity is also climbing here, with approximately 3% of the population classified as extremely overweight (more than 100 pounds over ideal bodyweight), which amounts to around 30,000 residents in Hawai`i.

Hawai`i is estimated to spend around $470 million annually on obesity-related medical costs, and another $770 million on diabetes-related medical costs alone.

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