A new report on the state of obesity cases in the United States revealed that one in every five Americans is obese. Still, experts are hopeful about the progress Americans are making in the fight against obesity.

2017 Obesity Report

A new report released by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) revealed that in all 50 states, one in five Americans is obese. Gathering their information with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) state- and territory-specific data, the report showed a slight leveling off of obesity rates in 2016.

Out of 50 states, 45 exceeded 25 percent in adult obesity rates, something that has not happened since the year 2000. The state with the highest obesity rate was West Virginia at 37.7 percent, while Colorado had the lowest at 22.3 percent. That being said, Colorado and West Virginia are two of four states which showed an increase in obesity rates along with Washington and Minnesota.

Generally, Southern states such as Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi have the highest obesity prevalence at 32 percent, with the Midwest (31.4 percent), Northeast (26.9), and the West (26.0) following closely behind. What's more, adults without high school education had the highest self-reported obesity at 35.5 percent, while college graduates had the lowest at 22.2 percent.

Reason For Hope

Even with the prevalence of obesity in the country, authors of the report are still hopeful because even with the increase in obesity rates in four states, Kansas reported a decrease while the rest remained the same with the prior year. The previous report was the first to record decreased obesity rates, and at the same time, growth rates had gradually started to slow down.

As such, authors are urging policy makers to continue investing in obesity prevention programs at both state, local, and community levels such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Further prioritizing school-based policy programs are also encouraged, as well as expanding health care coverage to obesity prevention, management, and treatment.

Why Is This Important?

Millions of Americans are affected by obesity, making them at risk for serious diseases and health issues such as obesity-related cancers, stroke, cardiovascular diseases, poor mental health, and difficulties during pregnancy.

Obesity also affects children's development, and the nation's military readiness, community protection, and societal equity. It is a serious issue that must also be given serious action lest the progress that the nation has done so far slide back.  

The 14th annual 'State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America based its discussion on American obesity on self-reported obesity information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), as well as interview and physical examination results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

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