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Smoking is down, but obesity is up and exercise remains as unpopular as ever, according to a new federal survey of the nation's health risks.

About 23 percent of Americans smoke, according to the federal Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance survey, which questioned adults in 44 states and Washington, D.C. Five years ago, the figure was 27 percent.But the bad news, researchers said, is that the percentage of Americans classified as overweight was around 23 percent, up 2 points from 1987, the first year obesity was surveyed. The percentage of people who said they get little or no exercise was 59 percent, the same as in 1986.

"When you look at cardiovascular risk factors, we've made progress in smoking, but there has not been progress in physical activity or overweight," said Dr. Paul Siegel of the Centers for Disease Control, which released the study Thursday.

"One of our national objectives needs to be to have more people at a healthy weight," Siegel said.

The survey was not a precise gauge of national behavior. Six states were not included, so the CDC reported the median - the middle score among participating states - rather than a national average.

The survey does cover about 90 percent of the nation's population and is "an indicator of national trends," the CDC said.

It found that behavior varies widely from state to state.

The number of smokers ranged from 17 percent in Utah, for example, to 29 percent in Kentucky and Michigan.

The number of overweight people ranged from 16 percent in Colorado to 27 percent in the District of Columbia. (The CDC defines overweight by a height-weight scale that pinpoints those who would be among the fattest 15 percent of all people in their 20s.)

The District of Columbia also had the most people - 73 percent - getting little or no exercise. At the low end of the scale was Colorado with 45 percent.

Other findings:

-No leisure-time physical activity at all. Median was 29 percent, with Montana the lowest at 18 percent and the District of Columbia the highest at 52 percent.

-Binge drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion in the previous month): Median was 15 percent, with the range from 6 percent in the District of Columbia, to 27 percent in Wisconsin.

-Driving after having too much to drink during the previous month: Median was 3 percent, with the range from 1 percent in Maine to 6 percent in Wisconsin.

-Only occasionally, or never, using seat belts: Median was 26 percent, with the range from 5 percent in Hawaii to 60 percent in North Dakota.