Rates of obesity continued to rise across the country during the past year, according to a report released Tuesday by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report found that Mississippi's adult obesity rate is 31.7% - the highest in the nation. This year, two more states weighed in with obesity rates of more than 30 percent - West Virginia at 30.6 percent and Alabama at 30.1 percent. Finishing off the top five are Louisiana at 29.5% and South Carolina at 29.2%.

Rates in the rest of the South continue to rise. The survey, which reports a continued correlation between poverty and obesity, as well as a geographic correlation, found that:

Obesity and obesity-related disease rates remain the highest in Southern states. Nine of the top 10 most obese states were in the South. In addition, all 10 states with the highest rates of diabetes and hypertension, 9 of the 10 states with the highest rates of physical inactivity, and 8 of the 10 states with the highest rates of poverty are in the South.

The report calls on the federal government to convene partners from state and local governments, businesses, communities, and schools to create and implement a realistic policy framework, including taking such steps as:

  • Investing in effective community-based disease-prevention programs that promote increased physical activity and good nutrition;
  • Improving the nutritional quality of foods available in schools and childcare programs;
  • Increasing the amount and quality of physical education and activity in schools and childcare programs;
  • Increasing access to safe, accessible places for physical activity in communities.
  • Improving access to affordable nutritious foods by providing incentives for grocery stores and farmers' markets to locate in underserved communities