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Health report: Obesity is the new smoking

Mad Men

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown for

The latest report card on Americans’ health says that for every person who quit smoking in 2011, another person became obese.

The country showed no improvement in overall health in 2011, despite modest decreases in smoking and preventable hospitalizations. These improvements were overwhelmed by major increases in obesity and diabetes.

Clearly, America has an issue with food. But if this country’s anti-smoking efforts have taught us anything, it’s that awareness, policy and social stigmas can come together to influence health habits in powerful ways—and ones which America’s food and fitness advocates can emulate.

The new report, compiled jointly by the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention, measured state-by-state and nationwide health based on 23 factors, including smoking, binge drinking, diabetes, high school graduation, immunization and obesity rates. The 5 healthiest states were Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Hawaii and Massachusetts. The least healthy was Mississippi, followed by neighbors Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama.

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