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America's Obesity Rate Is Highest Ever Recorded, New Report Finds

Childhood obesity rates are increasing, too.

More Americans have obesity than ever before, according to a new report. Data shows that the obesity rate in adults is 42.4%. This is the highest rate in history, and up from 26% in 2008. Trust for America's Health published The State of Obesity 2020: Better Policies for a Healthier America report with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System.

The report identifies several trends related to the rise. These include demographics, regions of the country, and more. It finds that Black adults have the highest rates of adult obesity with 49.6%. Latinx adults follow with 44.8%. White adults have an obesity rate of 42.4% and Asian adults have a 17.4 % obesity rate.

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The rate is higher on the east coast, according to the report. Colorado has an adult obesity rate with 23.8%, while Mississippi has the highest with 40.8%. In 2000, there wasn't a single state with an adult obesity rate above 25%. Now 12 states have a rate higher than 35%. None are further west than Oklahoma.

It also reveals that childhood obesity is increasing, as well. Almost 20% of those aged 2 through 19 have obesity. In the 1970s, only 5.5% did, and the effects could be lasting.

"Being overweight or having obesity as a young person puts them at higher risk for having obesity and its related health risks as an adult," the report says. "Furthermore, children are exhibiting earlier onset of what used to be considered adult conditions, including hypertension and high cholesterol."

In order to combat the rise, Trust for America's Health suggests several ways of allocating money and resources. They say funding should be given to the CDC for "obesity prevention programs including the State Physical Activity and Nutrition Program and the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program."

Growing the food stamp program, now called SNAP, can also help people get access to foods that are better for them. Other suggestions include encouraging businesses to promote healthy lifestyles and staying active as well as enacting soda and sugary drink taxes.

COVID-19 and the obesity rate— what's the connection?

The State of Obesity 2020 report also looks at the coronavirus. Obesity is an underlying health condition. Thus those who have obesity are more likely to see worse outcomes should they contract COVID-19. They are also three times more likely to be hospitalized due to the virus, according to the CDC. The report says that in the end, the record-breaking rate of adult obesity also means that over 40% of people have a higher risk of suffering serious consequences from a COVID-19 infection.

One way Trust for America's Health says officials can address this issue is to provide USDA nutrition policy waivers. Free school meals should also be provided for kids in school this year.

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda
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