While one third of the adults and one out of six children in the United States are obese, a report released on Thursday suggests the rates obesity is increasing could in some states be stabilizing.
Citing stats the U.S. Center for Disease Control collected, the report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health said the state of West Virginia has the highest rate of obesity at 37.7%. Mississippi was second with 37.3% and Arkansas and Alabama tied for the third highest with 35.7%.
The report said that the rate of adult obesity increased from 2015 to 2016 in the states of Colorado, Minnesota, West Virginia and Washington, dropped in Kansas, and remained stable in the 45 other states. Colorado had the lowest obesity rate at 23.2%.
For just the first time in the last 14 years of this annual report the rate of a state dropped, and rates in other states that increased were starting to slow down, said John Auerbach the CEO and President of Trust for America’s Health.
The reports said it was important to focus on prevention efforts during early childhood, including the promotion of exercise, more investment in programs that are community-based, increase healthcare coverage for the prevention and treatment of obesity, and improve efforts that are school-based to provide physical activities and health meals.
Auerbach said researchers concluded the report with some optimism. He said the adult rates were showing early signs of beginning to level off while rates in children were stabilizing.
The new study analyzed the data from the CDC on body mass index, which is a measure of a person’s height and weight. People that have a BMI that is between 25 and 29 are labeled overweight and 30 and above are considered obese.
The report also noted that in 25 states obesity rates were higher than 30%. In 2000, there was no state with a rate higher than 25%.
Nine of 11 states that have the highest rates of obesity are located in the south. Northeast and Western states have the lowest obesity rates.
Obesity costs the country, said Auerbach, over $150 billion in healthcare costs that are preventable and contributes to several different health issues.
The problems are acute in the Appalachian region that consists of 13 states, which lag behind the remainder of the U.S. in 33 of 41 health indicators, which includes the second leading causes of death, showed data from another separate study.