Obesity is a growing concern in the United States, affecting over 42 percent of adults and 20 percent of children. Recent data reveals that all U.S. states have an obesity rate of at least 20 percent and obesity-related cardiac deaths have tripled in the 20 years.
The CDC’s New Study
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published its 2022 Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps, revealing that many states exceeded a 20 percent obesity rate among their residents.
Obesity Rates Across the U.S.
Louisiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia reported the highest rates of obesity, each with 40 percent or higher rates.
Nineteen states had rates between 35 percent and 40 percent, while 22 states had rates between 30 percent and 35 percent, representing an increase from the previous year.
Regionally, the Midwest had the highest obesity rates at 35.8 percent, followed by the Southern states at 35.6 percent.
The Northeast and the West had rates of 30.5 percent and 29.5 percent, respectively.
The Cost of it All
The CDC also reported in 2019 that medical costs related to obesity in the United States totaled nearly $173 billion.
These statistics are derived from data collected through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an ongoing survey conducted by the CDC and state health departments.
Disparities Among Ethnic Groups
Obesity rates vary significantly among ethnic groups.
Non-Hispanic Black adults, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native adults, and Hispanic adults consistently reported obesity rates of 35 percent or higher in numerous states. White adults experienced lower rates, with only 14 states exceeding 35 percent obesity.
The CDC’s research found that individuals with higher levels of education were less likely to be obese.
Adults without a high school diploma had the highest obesity rates at 37.6 percent.
Those with some college education and high school graduates reported rates of 35.9 percent and 35.7 percent, respectively, while college graduates had the lowest rate at 27.2 percent.
Young adults aged 18 to 24 had the lowest obesity rate at 20.5 percent, while adults between 45 and 54 had the highest rates at 39.9 percent.
The Consequences of Obesity
Obesity is often described as a “gateway disease” that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Brett Osborn, a neurologist and longevity expert, says, “Obesity is a primer for age-related disease and early death,” and “Being categorically obese is associated with a two- to 10-year reduction in life expectancy.”
A ‘Problem’ Is an Understatement
Dr. Brett Osborn concluded his point by saying, “Unless we fix the obesity problem – and referring to it as a ‘problem’ is an understatement – the population en masse will be at an increasing risk for a reduced health span and foreshortened lifespan.”
Heart Disease and Obesity
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association also revealed that the number of U.S. adults who died of obesity-related heart disease tripled from 1999 to 2020.
Researchers analyzed death certificates from the CDC and found 281,135 heart disease deaths linked to obesity during this period, resulting in a death rate increase from 2.2 to 6.6 deaths per 100,000 people.
Surprisingly, this surge in obesity-related heart disease deaths contradicted the overall decline in heart disease deaths of nearly 18 percent during the same period.
Impact on Vulnerable Populations
The study revealed that the mortality rate from heart disease related to obesity was highest among the Black population.
Additionally, men experienced more obesity-related heart disease deaths than women, although Black women had slightly higher mortality rates than Black men.
The CDC’s Director
Dr. Karen Hacker, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said, “Our updated maps send a clear message that additional support for obesity prevention and treatment is an urgent priority.”
Understanding the Cause
Dr. Hacker explained that obesity “is a disease caused by many factors, including eating patterns, physical activity levels, sleep routines, genetics and certain medications.”
In order to combat this problem, Dr. Hacker also said, “However, we know the key strategies that work include addressing the underlying social determinants of health, such as access to health care, healthy and affordable food, and safe places for physical activity.”
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