The CDC is calling for obesity prevention. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)
The CDC is calling for obesity prevention. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

Nineteen states and two territories have at least 35% of residents with adult obesity – more than doubling the number of states with a high obesity prevalence since 2018 – according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The 2021 Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps also highlight the need to address disparities in obesity across states and racial and ethnic populations, through increased access to obesity prevention and treatment, said the agency.

Combined data from 2019–2021 show the number of states and territories with an obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher varies widely across race and ethnicity:

  • American Indian or Alaska Native adults: 31 states
  • Asian adults: 0 states
  • Black adults: 36 states and the District of Columbia
  • Hispanic adults: 27 states and Guam
  • White adults: 10 states

The 19 states and two territories are: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

State-based adult obesity prevalence by race, ethnicity, and location is based on self-reported height and weight data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

“This report illustrates the urgent need for making obesity prevention and treatment accessible to all Americans in every state and every community,” CDC acting principal deputy director Debra Houry said. 

“When we provide stigma-free support to adults living with obesity, we can help save lives and reduce severe outcomes of disease.”

Adults with obesity are at increased risk for many other serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, severe outcomes from COVID-19, and poor mental health. 

Additionally, many people with obesity report being stigmatized because of their weight.

The CDC said these findings highlight the importance of equitable access to prevention and treatment as supporting adults with obesity “will take a sustained, comprehensive effort from all parts of society to reduce disparities and improve the health of our communities.”

The agency added obesity is a disease for which treatment options exist, including proven weight management programs, medications, and bariatric surgery. 

However, there is inequitable access to proven obesity treatment in the United States.

“There are key actions and resources that can help slow and ultimately reverse the obesity epidemic,” Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion said. 

“These include supporting healthy individual lifestyle changes and ensuring that all people have access to healthy foods, evidence-based health care services, obesity treatment programs, and safe places for physical activity.”

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Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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