While adult obesity rates held steady in most states last year, Ohio’s rate continued to climb, reflecting a long-term trend, according a report released Monday from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Obesity rates remained high, ranging from 20 percent to 30 percent of adults in most states, but Ohio was one of only five states in which obesity rates increased, including Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico and Utah, the report found.
Ohio ranked No. 8 for adult obesity last year with a rate of 32.6 percent, up from 30.4 percent in 2013 when then state ranked No. 16, according to the report. In 2009, Ohio had an adult obesity rate of 29 percent and ranked No. 13 among states.
Last year, Ohio was one of 22 states with rates above 30 percent. Meanwhile, 45 states had rates above 25 percent, and three states — Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi — had obesity rates above 35 percent. Arkansas had the highest adult obesity rate at 35.9 percent, while Colorado had the lowest at 21.3 percent.
No state had an adult obesity rate below 20 percent.
“Obesity remains a problem in Montgomery County as well as the state and across the nation,” said Bill Wharton, a spokesman for Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County. “The latest results indicate we must be even more dedicated to pressing healthier lifestyles, and helping people to move in the right direction, which will result in a much healthier community and much lower health costs in the long run.”
With estimates ranging from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year, obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and health care costs in the United States, according to the report.
Montgomery County has implemented a range of nontraditional policies and programs to encourage people to choose healthier lifestyles, including the GetUp initiative designed to get kids moving to help fight obesity at an early age.
“We’ve been working on this issue for years now and have garnered community-wide support for programs such as GetUp,” Wharton said. “At the moment, the numbers are showing little progress in the battle against obesity, but it took a long time to get where we are, and it’s not something we’re going to fix over night.