ATLANTA, GA. – The prevalence of adult obesity is increasing in the United States, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC said Thursday that its 2019 Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps show that 12 states now have an obesity prevalence at or above 35%. Those states include Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. This is up from nine states in 2018 and six states in 2017.
The data also shows that racial and ethnic disparities still persist across the nation.
A total of 34 states and Washington D.C. had an obesity prevalence of 35% or higher among non-Hispanic Black adults, 15 states had a prevalence of 35% or higher among Hispanic adults, and six states had a prevalence of 35% or higher among non-Hispanic white adults.
Addressing the prevalence of obesity in America is more important than ever, because the CDC says obese adults are at heightened risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19. It increases the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
The CDC says obesity also disproportionately impacts some racial and ethnic minority groups who are also at increased risk of COVID-19.
“These disparities underscore the need to remove barriers to healthy living and ensure that communities support a healthy, active lifestyle for all,” wrote the CDC in a press release.
While system and environment changes can take time, officials say Americans can take small steps now to maintain or improve their health and protect themselves during the pandemic.
“Being active and eating a healthy diet can support optimal immune function and help prevent or manage chronic diseases that worsen outcomes from COVID-19,” the CDC wrote. “These actions, as well as getting enough sleep and finding healthy ways to cope with stress can help with weight maintenance and improve overall health.”