HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Hawaii has the third lowest obesity rate in the nation, but that statistic paints a misleading picture.
The State averages close to 22 percent, but nearly doubles to 40.8 percent if you look at Native Hawaiians. By comparison, the rate for Chinese is less than 7 percent.
The Science and Research Group Epidemiologist for the State, Tonya Lowery St. John explains, "If our whole State was 40 percent, we would be the most obese state in the nation. It's the fact that we're so ethnically diverse, which makes our numbers really look better than they actually are."
According to a new Department of Health report, 1 in 4 adults in Hawaii is now obese.
Art of Fitness owner Ray Sagum says the problem is obvious. "I'm not surprised. Just look around.
Sagum has had success tracking clients' food and fitness.
"If they're eating bad all the time, you can't just make them cut out the food and exercise and change their whole lifestyle. It has to be done gradually" says the longtime gym owner and trainer.
Schools are making strides too with healthier options.
Lola Irvin touts changes from the Healthy Hawaii Initiative. "The vending machines have water and low fat or non fat dairy products. We've seen reduction in consumption of sugary beverages and soda. We naturally kind of go towards what's healthy."
The State spends an estimated 470-million dollars on obesity-related medical costs. That's big incentive to encourage people to get healthy.
According to Lowery St. John, "We have almost tripled the rate we had in 1990. If that continues, by about 2030, half the population is going to be obese."
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