A record seven states had adult obesity rates exceeding 35 percent in 2017, according to new data released by the CDC.
The states with that unwanted distinction are Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia—which had the highest adult obesity rate at 38.1 percent. Only Colorado, Hawaii and Washington, D.C., had rates below 25 percent.
Six states showed increasing obesity prevalence from 2016 to 2017, while none reported declines.
“The epidemic continues to put millions of Americans at higher risk for a range of chronic diseases and costs our healthcare system billions of dollars each year,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement.
Struggles with weight were particularly evident among adults aged 45-54, who were more than twice as likely to have self-reported obesity than people aged 18-24 (35.8 percent versus 16.5 percent). The data was collected as part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a series of health-related phone surveys including more than 400,000 interviews each year with adults across the country.
Racial minorities were also more likely to report body mass index consistent with obesity. Blacks had the highest prevalence of the condition (38.4 percent), followed by Hispanics (32.6 percent) and whites (28.6 percent).
Regional differences were noted as well, with adult obesity rates exceeding 32 percent in the South and Midwest but sitting between 26 and 28 percent in the Northeast and West.
“The best way to reduce adult obesity rates over the long term is to make every day healthy for our children,” Brown said. “The American Heart Association will continue to focus our efforts on reducing kids’ consumption of sugary drinks, which significantly increases their risk for conditions including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. We urge states and communities to enact taxes on sugary drinks and ensure that healthy beverages such as water and milk come standard with all restaurant kids’ meals.”