Saturday, September 03, 2016

Kansas, Ky. obesity rates rise; 25 states over 30%

"Twenty-five states have adult obesity rates over 30 percent, putting millions of people at increased risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes," says the latest "State of Obesity" report.

“Obesity remains one of the most significant epidemics our country has faced, contributing to millions of preventable illnesses and billions of dollars in avoidable health care costs,” Richard Hamburg, interim president and CEO for Trust for America's Health, said in a news release. "Obesity continued to put millions of Americans at increased risk for a range of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, and costs the country between $147 billion and $210 billion each year," says the release.

The report, "The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America," is issued by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is based on data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a continuous national poll.

Kansas and Kentucky were the only two states to see obesity increases in 2015. Most remained steady, and four states saw a drop: Minnesota, Montana, New York and Ohio.

Nine of the 11 most obese states are in the South, and 22 of the top 25 are in the South and Midwest. Louisiana has the highest obesity rate, 36.2 percent.

More than half the states have obesity rates at or above 30 percent, with four above 35 percent. Obesity rates are above 20 percent in every state; in 1991, no state had a rate above 20 percent.

The authors outline a set of policy recommendations to combat obesity, including: investment in obesity prevention; focusing on early-childhood and school-based policies and programs that support healthier meals, physical activity and less screen time; prioritizing active transportation planning and access to healthy foods in communities; and covering a full range of obesity prevention, treatment and management services under all public and private health plans.

“These new data suggest that we are making some progress but there’s more yet to do. Across the country, we need to fully adopt the high-impact strategies recommended by numerous experts," Hamburg said. "Improving nutrition and increasing activity in early childhood, making healthy choices easier in people’s daily lives and targeting the startling inequities are all key approaches we need to ramp up."

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