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More adults, kids in isles overweight

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Hawaii is one of the leanest states in the country weightwise, according to state and national adult obesity reports, but it still has some big problems:

» Adult obesity here has more than doubled since 1995, from 10.8 percent to 22.9 percent in 2009.

» Native Hawaiians have the highest obesity prevalence, 49.3 percent, among ethnic groups in Hawaii.

» The prevalence of obesity doubled among native Hawaiians, Caucasians and other ethnic groups, but tripled among Filipinos (from 6.9 percent to 18.4 percent), and increased only slightly (from 9.2 percent to 12.8 percent) among Japanese.

» High school obesity has increased 38 percent since 1999, from 10.5 percent to 14.5 percent.

Hawaii ranked among states with the lowest adult obesity rates—47th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia—in a recent report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010," from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Hawaii’s obesity rate was 22.6 percent. Colorado had the nation’s lowest obesity rate, 19.1 percent. Mississippi had the highest rate, 33.8 percent, and 10 of 11 states with the highest rates were in the South.

Lola Irvin, Health Hawaii Initiative program manager in the state Health Department, said Hawaii also ranked 47th the year before, in 2008.

A separate 2008 national survey of children’s health ranked Hawaii’s youth among the nation’s leanest at 46th place, Irvin said.

However, data collected in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System conducted by the Health Department with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show "childhood obesity rates have gone up," Irvin said. "We are very concerned."

Contributing factors include a lot of sedentary time and foods high in sugar and fat that students get outside the schools, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, Irvin said. Food portions also have increased, as well as "screen time," she said.

The survey showed 40 percent of public middle school students and 31 percent of high school students last year were spending at least three hours on a school night watching TV, she said. Time spent on video games and computers was similar, she said.


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