Government initiatives to curb obesity are not working, according to a study released by the University of Missouri.

The study looked at the impact of per capita healthcare expenditures, fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity rates vs. obesity rates at the state level. Charles Menifield, a professor in the Truman School of Public Affairs at MU, found that higher consumption of fruits and vegetables correlated to lower obesity rates while factors such as smoking correlated with higher obesity rates. In light of the findings, “policy makers as well as health officials should take a comprehensive look at factors affecting obesity prior to efforts to curtail the issue,” according to the report’s abstract.

Despite an increase in state public health funding to combat growing health concerns, obesity rates have not decreased. The study found that as state spending on health care increases, obesity rates rise. The report’s conclusion says that “despite governmental campaign efforts to decrease rising obesity levels, the data in this research clearly indicated that their efforts are not working, suggesting that policy makers have to pursue more aggressive policies.”

According to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of American adults were obese in 2009 – 2010. This has caused an increase in the prevalence of health complications including hypertension and type 2 diabetes. The UM findings state that there has been an 8.1 percent increase in American obesity rates since 2000.

Menifield says his findings strongly suggest government efforts in fighting obesity have failed. He recommends policy makers address issues comprehensively, rather than combatting them one by one.

“The government cannot use a one-pronged approach to solving obesity,” Menifield said in a statement, “They must use multiple avenues to solve the issue at every level of government. Obesity is clearly correlated with other social ills, like smoking, low birth weight and teen pregnancy; thus, the government should seek an agenda that seeks to reduce all of these social ills rather than focus on them individually.”