There’s finally some good news about obesity in America: Several states have experienced a drop in obesity rates—the first time that any state has seen a decrease in the past decade.
For the majority of states, obesity rates for U.S. adults remained stable from 2014-2015, according to the new report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. But rates went down in four states during that time period: Minnesota, Montana, New York and Ohio. This is the first time that any state, besides Washington, D.C. in 2010, has actually seen a decline, the report authors point out. Kansas and Kentucky were the only states that experienced an increase.
Though some of trends are positive, “obesity remains one of the biggest and costliest health threats to the country,” costing $147 billion in health spending each year, said Richard Hamburg, interim president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, in a conference call with reporters. “In 1980, no state had an obesity rate above 15%,” Hamburg said. “This year, every state is above 20%.”
The state with the highest obesity rate is Louisiana, at 36.2 percent. Colorado has the lowest obesity rate at 20.2 percent. Nine out of the 11 states with the highest obesity rates are in the South, and 22 of the 25 states with the highest rates are in the South and Midwest, the report authors write.
About 38% of U.S. adults are obese, and rates are at least 40% for African-Americans in 14 states.
“We’re continuing to see some progress, with modest decreases in some areas,” Hamburg says. However, “there’s much more left to be done.”