5/22/02 - Obesity Epidemic

More Americans are going to the doctor, but they're not getting any healthier. That's according to a ten year study done by state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control. So how does the Heartland stack up? One of the areas this study looked closely at was obesity. The number of overweight people went up dramatically in every Heartland state, but some people say they're not going to be a part of those statistics.

The reason 14 year old Bryan Cook is hitting Main Street Fitness is simple. "So I don't have to sit at home," Bryan says. "And it's better than watching TV." Carolyn Bird is there to drop the extra pounds she gained during her pregnancy. She's already lost 40, and has ten more to go. "I just feel healthier about myself and I enjoy it," Carolyn says. Bill Tillotson retired not too long ago. He's there to help his heart. "It makes me feel good," Bill says. "I had a heart attack four years ago and it's good for my heart."

They don't want to be a part of what is now called an obesity epidemic. The CDC has found obesity has surged in every state. The number of people who are obese has nearly doubled in the Heartland states of Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky. A problem that Scott Givens, a fitness and wellness expert says may not get better anytime soon. Lifestyles are becoming more sedentary. People are turning on the TV instead of working out, a trend that kids see their parents setting. "Hopefully parents and adults will start seeing that they're role models for they're kids, and unfortunately it may take more kids being overweight and unhealthy for parents to see that," Givens says.

While obesity rates continue to climb, more people are going to the doctor, an option Givens says is easier to choose. "They get check-ups and go to the doctor and think he didn't really harp on me too much," Givens says.

The study also looked at smoking trends and binge drinking. You can find a state by state breakdown by logging onto: