Americans continue to get fatter and it's delivering a huge blow to the country, both in higher health care costs and undercutting military recruiting, according to a huge new study.

The 14th annual State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation bluntly reported that 70 percent of the nation is obese or overweight.

And while the rate of obesity growth is leveling off, the costs aren't. The report, for example, said additional health care for obese adults and children is $150 billion a year and billions of dollars more in lost worker productivity.

It is also costly to the military, said the report. Nearly one-quarter of military recruits are rejected because they are obese and it costs the Pentagon $1 billion a year in added health care costs for obese troops and their families.

More stunning, said the comprehensive 101-page report: " 70 percent of today's youth are not fit to serve in the military due to obesity or being overweight, criminal records, drug misuse or educational deficits."

The report is filled with graphics and statistics showing that the epidemic is at a new high, though slowing. It also gives several recommendations to fight it.

It charts obesity in every state and found that West Virginia is at the top, with 37.7 percent obese. Colorado is at the bottom with 22 percent obese.

Some other key takeaways:

  • Nine of the 11 states with the highest obesity rates are in the South and 23 of the 25 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South and Midwest.
  • Adult obesity rates have striking racial and ethnic inequities - with rates above 40 percent for blacks in 15 states, and rates at or above 35 percent among Latinos in nine states, compared with rates above 35 percent among whites in one state.
  • Obesity rates are around 30 percent higher among adults without a college education and with incomes below $15,000 compared with other adults.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com