Many health experts believe that changing diet may do more to bring those numbers down than increasing exercise.
A separate paper by the institute published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. identified poor diet as the No. 1 factor contributing to America’s poor health compared to other industrialized nations.
Robert Jeffery, an epidemiologist and weight-loss researcher at the University of Minnesota, said public health campaigns may be yielding fruit. “Publicity has been ramping up everywhere, but particularly in the Southeast,” he said.