U.S. obesity rate reaches epidemic levels

Authorities say the rise in obesity has caused devastating and costly health problems, reduced life expectancy and provoked stigma and discrimination.

As of 2010, 12 states have an obese population of more than 30 percent. These states included Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Just five years earlier in 2005, only three states showed such trends. And 10 years before that, the obesity rate was limited to 19 percent.

The highest rates in 1985 were at 14 percent, according to available data.

North Carolina has remained at a 25-29 percent obesity rate since 2005, up from having a 15-19 percent obesity rate in 1995 and a 10-14 percent obesity rate in 1985.

Officials with the National Institutes of Health said they have established a research group devoted to obesity research after obesity’s rise to epidemic levels.

The NIH Obesity Research Task Force will work to try to understand issues such as why some people are more susceptible to obesity than others, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Officials say the group will also try to develop strategies that could help prevent obesity.

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