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Obesity and Diabetes: Two Growing Epidemics in California

August 1, 2010

Policy Brief

Authors: Allison L. Diamant, MD, MSHS, Susan H. Babey, PhD, Joelle Wolstein, PhD, MPP, MA, Malia Jones

This policy brief provides an overview of diabetes and obesity prevalence in California using the most recent data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey and comparing it to data from past surveys to examine trends over time.

The authors find that both obesity and diabetes have grown significantly in California. Six million adults are obese and an additional 9.3 million are overweight. Diabetes prevalence increased 26 percent between 2001 and 2007. Obesity is a significant risk factor for diabetes; more than two million adults have been diagnosed with diabetes in California. Obesity and diabetes disproportionately affect people of color, the poor and those with the least education in California.

The authors recommend policy and environmental changes that promote and encourage physical activity and healthy eating as those most likely to prove effective in combating obesity and related conditions.

The development of this policy brief was supported by The California Endowment.

NOTE: The Center recently made methodological changes in the way rounding is calculated for variables related to Body Mass Index (BMI). Although the change did not significantly affect the majority of the estimates in this publication, the overweight prevalence for 12 counties/county groups and the obesity prevalence for 3 counties in Exhibit 5 changed by more than one percentage point. A corrected list of counties is attached below (Exhibit 5 - Amended). The percent overweight in the following 12 counties or county groups changed by more than one percentage point: Butte, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano, and the following county group (Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, Inyo, Mariposa, Mono, Alpine). The percent obese in the following 3 counties changed by more than one percentage point: Fresno, San Luis Obispo, Shasta.

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