West Virginia again leads national adult obesity rate

Published: Sep. 12, 2018 at 2:43 PM EDT
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West Virginia leads the country in adult obesity rate for the second year in a row, according to new national data.

The annual State of Obesity report, released by the Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, charts West Virginia's adult obesity rate at 38.1 percent.

That's up from 23.9 percent in 2000 and from 13.7 percent in 1990.

West Virginia has the seventh-highest obesity rate for youth ages 10-17.

The 2018 report, released Wednesday, revealed that adult obesity rates seven states in the country exceed 35 percent. In order, Missississippi, Oklahoma, Iowa, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas round out the top seven. Five states were above the 35 percent threshold in 2016.

The study said no state had a "statistically significant improvement in its obesity rate over the past year." Obesity rates rose in six states since the last report, including West Virginia.

Adults ages 45-64 lead the state in obesity rate at 45 percent. Men slightly outpace women, at 39.4 percent, compared to West Virginia women's obesity rate of 36.7 percent.

The new data in the 15th edition of the report also charts West Virginia at the top of the nation for adults with diabetes. 15.2 percent of West Virginia have diabetes, on pace to have 282,164 cases by 2030 at the current pace.

West Virginia was second in the country for adult obesity rate in 2014 and 2015. The state was tied with Mississippi in 2013 for first. Prior to that year's report, the last time West Virginia was ranked first in the country was 2000.

John Auerbach, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, said solving the nation's obesity problem is not going to be easy.

"Obesity is a complex problem, so solving it will require evidence-based, multi-sector approaches," Auerbach said in the report. "There is a growing body of evidence that policies and programs that align efforts across sectors—among health departments, transportation officials, schools, and businesses—can work.

"What needs to be done now is to implement these programs in more communities, particularly the communities hardest hit by the obesity crisis. We must work to ensure that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthy. That everyone has safe places to walk, ride bicycles and exercise, and that families can buy healthy, affordable foods in their neighborhoods."