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Alarming Trends: CDC data points to escalating obesity in multiple states

Dr. Mick Singh Health-X

Reviewed by Mick Singh, MD

Alarming Trends: CDC data points to escalating obesity in multiple states

Freshly released data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sheds light on the increasingly prevalent issue of obesity in numerous states. In the year 2022, a total of 22 states reported that over 35% of their adult populations were grappling with obesity, marking a significant increase from the 19 states that faced this situation in 2021. A decade ago, the CDC’s records indicated that no state had reached or surpassed the concerning threshold of 35% adult obesity prevalence.

Among the states surveyed, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia emerged as the frontrunners in terms of obesity prevalence, with over 40% of their adult populations affected by this health concern.

Regional disparities in obesity prevalence

The data also revealed regional disparities, highlighting the Midwest and the South as areas with the highest obesity rates, where approximately 36% of adults were classified as obese. In contrast, the Northeast and West regions reported comparatively lower obesity rates, with approximately 30% of adults grappling with obesity in 2022.

The data source for these revelations is the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a survey conducted jointly by the CDC and state health departments. Individuals were categorized as having obesity if their body mass index (BMI) exceeded 30, based on self-reported measurements of height and weight.

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Notably, the latest findings underline substantial disparities in obesity prevalence among different racial and ethnic groups. In 38 states, over 35% of Black adults were identified as having obesity, and similar trends were observed in 33 states for American Indian adults and 32 states for Hispanic adults. In contrast, obesity rates among Asian adults did not surpass 35% in any state, and only 14 states recorded such prevalence among White adults.

Age also played a pivotal role in obesity rates, with young adults aged 18 to 24 reporting the lowest obesity rates, with approximately one in five individuals falling into this category. Conversely, adults between the ages of 45 and 54 faced obesity rates that were about twice as high, affecting approximately two in five individuals, as indicated by the CDC’s data. Moreover, the data highlighted a trend where obesity prevalence decreased as the level of education increased.

Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, emphasized the urgent need for additional support in the realms of obesity prevention and treatment through the release of updated maps. Dr. Hacker underscored the multifactorial nature of obesity as a disease, arising from a complex interplay of factors, including dietary habits, physical activity levels, sleep patterns, genetics, and the use of certain medications. This complexity dictates that a one-size-fits-all approach is not sufficient.

Dr. Hacker further highlighted the importance of targeting key strategies that have proven effective. These strategies encompass addressing the underlying social determinants of health, such as ensuring access to healthcare, promoting the availability of healthy and affordable food, and creating safe environments for physical activity. In doing so, a comprehensive approach to combatting obesity takes shape, recognizing that the solution lies in a holistic response tailored to the diverse needs of individuals and communities.

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Disclaimer: If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The content within the Health-X Knowledge Base is supported by peer-reviewed research and data sourced from reputable medical societies and governmental entities. It is essential to note, however, that these resources do not replace the need for personalized medical guidance, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified medical professional.

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