“F” as in Fat: Obesity Rising in Hawaiʻi

August 21, 2013, 11:27 AM HST · Updated September 20, 4:00 PM
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File photo by Kristin Hashimoto

File photo by Kristin Hashimoto

By Maui Now Staff

Obesity in Hawaiʻi is rapidly increasing, consistent with national trends, according to a new report released yesterday and detailed by the state Department of Health.

The report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2013,” was issued by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

In the report, Hawaiʻi was tied at 47th among all states for adult obesity, and was on a list of 10 states with the lowest rates of obesity in kids 10 to 17 years old.

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Despite the ranking, state officials say Hawaiʻi is following the same troubling path as the rest of the nation compared to previous years.

According to state health director, Loretta Fuddy, nearly one-quarter (23.6%) of Hawaiʻi adults are obese, and without effective interventions, state officials say more than half of Hawaiʻi’s adults will be obese by 2030.

“Adult obesity in Hawaiʻi increased nearly three times from what it was a little over 20 years ago. In the past year alone, state officials also note that obesity has risen more than 7%, and childhood obesity has also remained high (13.2% in 2011),” according to state officials who cited information contained in the report.

In a press release issued by the state Department of Health, authorities said Hawaiʻi’s ethnic diversity also “masks significant disparities in obesity that exist in our state with higher rates among native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander populations.”

In addition to a general increase in obesity in the state, there is also an increase in adults who are morbidly or excessively obese, according to state officials.

“In 2011, there were 30,000 morbidly obese adults in Hawaiʻi—roughly 3% of the population,” DOH officials said.

State officials estimate that $470 million is spent annually on obesity-related medical costs, and $770 million on diabetes-related medical costs.

“We must continue to work together across diverse public and private organizations, governmental agencies, and communities so healthy choices are the desirable easy decisions,” said Fuddy in a statement.

Below are some highlights from the F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2013 report relating to Hawaiʻi:

Adult Obesity Rates in Hawaiʻi

  • Obesity: 2012 Percentage: 23.6% (+/- 1.6); Ranking : 47
  • Overweight & Obese: 2012 Percentage: 56.1% (+/- 1.7)
  • Diabetes: 2012 Percentage: 7.8% (+/- 1.0); Ranking: 44
  • Physical Inactivity: 2012 Percentage: 18.7% (+/- 1.4); Ranking: 44
  • Hypertension: 2011 Percentage: 28.7% (+/- 1.5); Ranking: 43

Children and Adolescents in Hawaiʻi

  • Percentage of Obese High School Students (95% Conf Interval): 13.2 (+/- 2.4) (2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey)
  • Percentage of Overweight High School Students (95% Conf Interval): 13.4 (+/- 1.6) (2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey)
  • Percentage of High School Students Who Were Physically Active At Least 60 Minutes on All 7 Days: 21.0 (+/- 2.3) (2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey)
  • Percentage of Obese Low-Income Children Ages 2-4: 9.2% (2011 PedNSS)
  • Percentage of Obese Children Ages 10-17: 11.5% (+/- 2.6) (2011 National Survey of Children’s Health); Ranking: 44
  • Percentage Participating in Vigorous Physical Activity Every Day Ages 6-17: 28.7% (2011 National Survey of Children’s Health)

Hawaiʻi Obesity rates by sex and age

  • Men: 26.8% (+/- 2.0)
  • Women: 20.3% (+/- 2.0)
  • 18-25 Years Old: 17.1% (+/- 4.2)
  • 26-44 Years Old: 29.1% (+/- 3.2)
  • 45-64 Years Old: 26.8% (+/- 2.7)
  • 65+ Years Old: 14.1% (+/- 2.2)
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