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States with high obesity rate nearly double since 2018: CDC

Adult obesity rates are on the rise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Wednesday, noting 16 states with an adult obesity prevalence of at least 35%, up from nine states in 2018.

A dozen states met the threshold in 2019, and the list of states now include: “Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware (new this year), Indiana, Iowa (new this year), Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio (new this year), Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (new this year), and West Virginia,” the health agency wrote in a statement. 

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The figures released Wednesday include data through 2020, and stem from the ongoing Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System phone survey. The CDC also reported “notable racial and ethnic disparities,” with zero states having a high obesity prevalence among non-Hispanic Asian residents and 35 states and the District of Columbia ranking above the 35% obesity rate among non-Hispanic Black residents, among other disparities.

Obesity is a common, chronic disease that increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and worsened mental health, the CDC notes. Obesity also increases the risk of a severe bout of COVID-19 disease following viral infection.

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Additional findings Wednesday indicated obesity prevalence declined among people with higher education, and the Midwest and South had the highest obesity prevalence, at 34% each, followed by the West and Northeast, at 29.3% and 28%, respectively. In addition, adults aged 18-24 were tied with the lowest self-reported obesity rate (19.5%) versus adults aged 45-54 with the highest prevalence at about 38%. 

“To change the current course of obesity will take a sustained, comprehensive effort from all parts of society,” the CDC wrote in a statement. “We will need to acknowledge existing health disparities and health inequities and address the social determinants of health such as poverty and lack of health care access if we are to ensure health equity. “

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