The Centers for Disease Control this week announced that 28 percent of adults in Georgia are obese.
And experts believe the problem is getting worse.
Mary Ann Johnson, a nutrition professor with the University of Georgia’s Obesity initiative, says they are concerned.
“65 percent of adults in Georgia are either overweight or obese, with about a third who are obese.” she says.
She says, “We’re concerned it could be the traditional southern diet. But it may just be our focus on quicker meals and really losing sight of where are the calories coming from in our food.”
Melissa Brantley with the South Central Health District in Dublin says the problem is most prevalent in the rural parts of the state.
She says “Rural populations have a harder time accessing healthy food and then having the resources to be able to obtain healthy food. Also, rural populations don’t often have as much to offer as far as physical activity. It’s harder to find places like gyms.”
Rural areas are less likely to have sidewalks and bike trails, further limiting how people can get exercise.
Tricia Hardy, director of child wellness with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, says it’s not just adults who are obese.
She says “We’re really at a crisis point because Georgia has the second highest rate of childhood obesity in the nation. Our doctors are seeing more and more patients that are really suffering from adult-type diseases.”
She says Children’s Healthcare is working with schools to include more physical activity in the school day.
Johnson says new federal requirements to add more fruits and vegetables to school lunches will also help.
Governor Deal has begun the Georgia Shape Initiative. The state has set up a website with healthy recipes and tips on how to lose weight.
The CDC says Georgia has a lower rate of obesity than nearby Alabama and South Carolina, but a higher rate of obesity than Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina.