Sixteen US states now have obesity rates of at least 35 percent — more than ever before, new maps reveal.
More than a third of adults in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia were dangerously overweight by 2020, according to the data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This is almost double the nine states in 2018 where the prevalence of obesity was 35 percent or higher.
Colorado fared the best with an obesity rate of 24.2 percent, while Mississippi had the worst rate at 39.7 percent.
Racial and ethnic disparities still exist: three times as many states with at least 35 percent of Hispanic residents overweight compared to overweight whites — and five times as many states with at least 35 percent of black residents with overweight.
In the annual report, the researchers warn that obesity can worsen the outcomes of COVID-19, increasing the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and even death.
A new CDC map found that 16 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia, have adult obesity of at least 35% (above)
The data comes from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a telephone survey conducted by the CDC and state health departments.
The CDC report revealed that adult obesity rates increased as their education levels declined.
Adults without a high school diploma had an obesity rate of 38.8 percent compared with 34 percent of adults with a high school diploma, 34.1 percent of adults with college degrees and 25 percent of college graduates.
Differences were also evident between races.
Only seven states had an obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher among white adults.
In comparison, 22 states had the same prevalence of obesity among Hispanic adults, and 35 states have a black population of which at least a third was obese.
Asians were the least likely ethnic group to report high rates of obesity. Of the 35 states with sufficient data, 33 reported rates of less than 20 percent.
The remaining two — South Carolina and Alaska — reported 23.7 percent and 25.5 percent, respectively.
Twenty-one states had Hispanic populations with more than a third of obese adults (above), three times the number of white states
Thirty-five states had black populations with more than a third of obese adults (above), five times the number of white states
Researchers also found that middle-aged adults were about twice as likely to be dangerously overweight as young adults.
Those between the ages of 18 and 24 had the lowest obesity rate at 19.5 percent, while those aged 45 to 54 had the highest rate at 38.1 percent.
Differences between regions in the US were also observed.
The Midwest and South were the regions with the highest rates of adult obesity at 34.1 percent.
Meanwhile, the West and Northeast were at 29.3 percent and 28 percent, respectively.
Obesity is known to be a risk factor for several chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and even certain types of cancer.
Only seven states had an obesity prevalence of 35% or higher among white adults.
Asians were the least likely ethnic group to report high rates of obesity. Of the 35 states with sufficient data, 33 reported percentages of less than 20% (above)
However, obese adults are also at increased risk of serious consequences from COVID-19, including severe cases, hospitalization and death.
AN study of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic found that obese people were twice as likely to be hospitalized as compared to the state population.
This means that obese people diagnosed with COVID-19 could put even more strain on already overburdened hospitals.
In addition, a recent study of the University of Michigan School of Public Health found that obese adults who become infected with the flu are not only at greater risk for serious complications, but also remain contagious for longer.
This means that obesity is linked to an increased risk of flu transmission. Since 75 percent of American adults will be overweight or obese by 2030, this could lead to the loss of thousands more of lives from the flu or coronavirus.
While it’s unclear why obese adults are more contagious, scientists believe obesity alters the body’s immune response and leads to chronic inflammation.
“To change the current course of obesity will require sustained, comprehensive effort from all segments of society,” the CDC authors wrote.
“We will need to recognize existing health inequalities and health inequalities and address the social determinants of health, such as poverty and lack of access to health care, if we are to ensure health equity.
“These maps help by showing where we should focus our efforts to prevent obesity and support people with this disease.”