LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A new study suggests the Golden State could be losing its figure.
The state is still among U.S. leaders in fighting obesity, according to an annual report released Friday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which shows California is ranked 40th in obesity rates.
Mississippi maintains its title as the nation’s most overweight state with an adult obesity rate of 34.4 percent, while Colorado ranks as the least obese with a 19.8 percent obesity rate.
California posted a modest 24.8 percent, placing it among the top 10 states when it comes to watching its waistline.
But despite the state’s respectable showing, Rich Hamburg, Deputy Director of The Trust for America’s Health told KNX 1070 you have to look beyond the percentages and concentrate on the raw data.
“For a state like California, this still means that close to a quarter of the population is obese,” said Hamburg.
The study finds much of the obesity problem can be traced back to behaviors early in life, and Hamburg says a large reason for that would be changes in how kids spend their free time in the age of Xbox and Facebook.
“Free play — going outside and telling your children to come back before the sun goes down — is in many places almost a thing of the past,” he said.
Socioeconomic factors were also found to influence kids’ exercise habits, especially when in lower-income neighborhoods where it may not be safe for young children to run around and play.
But Hamburg said it hasn’t always been this way.
“If you go back as far as 20 years, the obesity rate in California between 1988-1990 was 9.9 percent,” he noted. “So even in what’s considered of the healthier states, the rate has gone up from 10 percent to 24.8 percent.”
“That’s a significant increase over a 20-year period,” he added.