Obesity in Hawaii Rising Alongside National Trends

According to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2013, a new report released yesterday by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), obesity in Hawaii continues to increase rapidly consistent with national trends and, without effective interventions, more than half of Hawaii’s adults will be obese by 2030.

F as in Fat

The report summarizes obesity rates in the United States and identifies 13 states with obesity rates above 30 percent and 41 states with rates of at least 25 percent. Every state is above 20 percent. “While Hawaii has a lower obesity and chronic disease rate relative to many other jurisdictions, our state is following the same troubling path as the rest of the nation,” said Director of Health Loretta J. Fuddy. “Nearly one-quarter of Hawaii adults are obese, and some population groups have much higher rates. Obesity is an epidemic, and we cannot afford to sit back idly on this issue.”

The TFAH report ranks Hawaii 47th among all states for adult obesity, with 23.6 percent of Hawaii adults currently obese. According to the report, adult obesity in Hawaii has increased nearly three times from what it was a little over 20 years ago. In the past year alone, obesity has risen more than seven percent and childhood obesity has also remained high (13.2 percent in 2011).

Hawaii’s ethnic diversity also masks significant disparities in obesity that exist in our state with higher rates among native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander populations. While adult obesity in 2011 was 21.9 percent for the overall state, rates ranged from 6.8 percent among Chinese, to 20.6 percent among Filipinos, to 40.8 percent among Native Hawaiians.

Not only is obesity in general increasing in Hawaii, but the proportion of adults who are morbidly or excessively obese in Hawaii is also increasing. In 2011, there were 30,000 morbidly obese adults in Hawaii—roughly 3 percent of the population.

Increases in obesity are attributed in-part to physical inactivity and unhealthy eating. Among high school students, only 21 percent met the national recommendations for physical activity. Fruit and vegetable consumption in Hawaii also remains low; the percentage of adults who reported eating more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day is only 11.4 percent.  Among high school students, it was 17.5 percent.

Obesity is costly to our state and can lead to diabetes and other chronic conditions later in life. Eighty-two percent of adults in Hawaii have at least one chronic disease, over half have two or more, and 31.5 percent have three or more chronic diseases. Hawaii spends an estimated $470 million annually on obesity-related medical costs, and $770 million on diabetes-related medical costs.

“We need to move forward policy, systems and environmental changes to curb rising obesity rates and costs,” said Director Fuddy. “We must continue to work together across diverse public and private organizations, governmental agencies, and communities so healthy choices are the desirable easy decisions.”

The Department of Health recently released the Hawaii Physical Activity and Nutrition Plan 2013-2020 a comprehensive set of Hawaii-specific strategies designed to curb the obesity epidemic. The Plan represents the work of community members and stakeholders in obesity prevention from across the state. The plan is available on the Department of Health’s website under “Publications and Campaigns” or via the following direct link: http://health.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/DOH_PAN2020_LO.pdf.

 

National Report: Hawaii Ranks 5th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Hawaii ranks 5th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

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Hawaii currently spends $8.9 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 58.8 percent of the $15.2 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Hawaii include:

Hawaii this year will collect $186 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 4.8 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Hawaii is spending less than 5 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.

The tobacco companies spend $24.7 million a year to market their products in Hawaii. This is 3 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled “Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 Years Later,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

Hawaii has been a leader in the fight against tobacco with a high cigarette tax ($3.20 per pack), a strong smoke-free workplace law and its tobacco prevention and cessation program. However, the state this year cut funding for tobacco prevention by 17 percent. Hawaii has one of the lowest high school smoking rates in the nation at 10.1 percent, compared to 18.1 percent who smoke nationally.

“Hawaii has been a leader in the fight against tobacco, but needs to sustain its commitment to tobacco prevention in order to continue making progress,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment for Hawaii that protects kids, saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.”

In Hawaii, 1,500 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 1,100 lives and costs the state $336 million in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings include:

The states this year will collect $25.7 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8 percent of it – $459.5 million – on tobacco prevention programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.

States are falling woefully short of the CDC’s recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states have budgeted just 12.4 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends.

Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.

As the nation implements health care reform, the report warns that states are missing a golden opportunity to reduce tobacco-related health care costs, which total $96 billion a year in the U.S. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people each year

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements .