New data from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that in 22 states, at least 35 percent of adults were obese in 2022. This is a huge jump from the 19 states recorded in 2021. The increase is concerning given that a decade ago, there were no states with an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35 percent.
Louisiana, Oklahoma and West Virginia were the states with the highest rates in the list, with more than 40 percent of adults in those areas being obese.
The other 19 states with an adult obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
There were some important race and ethnicity differences when the data were broken down further. Black adults commonly live in states with an adult obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher. Native American adults followed in second place, while Hispanic adults landed in third.
White adults landed in fourth place, many of them living in states where obesity rates are kept at bay. Interestingly, there were no states or territories where Asian adults had an adult obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher.
Age and education appeared to play a role; as education level increased, there was a decline in obesity prevalence.
Adults without a high school diploma or equivalent had the highest prevalence of obesity (37.6 percent), followed by adults with some college education (35.9 percent) or high school graduates (35.7 percent) and then by college graduates (27.2 percent). Adults ages 18-24 had the lowest prevalence of obesity (20.5 percent) compared with those ages 45-54, who had the highest prevalence (39.9 percent).
Like many chronic conditions, obesity is preventable with a healthy lifestyle. There are ways to address even mild obesity. (Related: Obesity Industrial Complex pushes junk food on children so they grow up to become pharmaceutical junkies.)
Try the following tips for a healthy diet.
Eat smart and healthy: Focus on eating at least five to seven servings of whole fruits and vegetables every day, which contain higher amounts of nutrients and are associated with a lower risk for diabetes and insulin resistance. Their fiber content in particular helps you feel full with fewer calories, helping to prevent weight gain.
Eat small amounts (1.5 ounces or a small handful) of unsalted nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts and pistachios, which are all associated with heart health. Go easy (or eliminate altogether) protein sources that are heavy in saturated fats, such as red meat and dairy.
Avoid processed foods: A 2019 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that subjects who were offered a highly processed diet consumed more calories and gained weight, while those offered a minimally processed diet ate less and lost weight.
Reduce sugar consumption: Major sources of added sugar to avoid include candy; dairy desserts like ice cream; fruit drinks (which are seldom 100 percent fruit juice); grain desserts, like cakes, cookies and pies; and sugary beverages, including sodas and energy or sports drinks.
Limit artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners have been linked to obesity and diabetes. If you feel you must use a sweetener, opt for a small amount of honey, which is a natural alternative.
Skip saturated fats: Focus instead on sources of healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) like avocados, olive oil, and tree nuts. Even healthy fats are recommended to be limited to 20 to 35 percent of daily calories and people with elevated cholesterol or vascular disease may need an even lower level.
Sip wisely: Drink more water and eliminate all sugared beverages from your diet. Make water your go-to beverage; unsweetened tea and coffee are fine, too. Avoid energy drinks and sports drinks, which not only contain an overwhelming amount of added sugar but have been shown (in the case of the former) to pose potential dangers to the cardiovascular system.
Cook at home: Studies looking at the frequency of home meal preparation have found that both men and women who prepared meals at home were less likely to gain weight. They were also less likely to develop type 2 diabetes because they consciously know what goes into their food.
Most national and international guidelines recommend that the average adult get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. That means at least 30 minutes per day, five days a week.
The best exercise for maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI) is brisk walking, according to analysis of data from the 2015 Health Survey for England published in the journal Risk Analysis.
In addition, experts recommend keeping active throughout the day, whether by using a standing desk, taking frequent stretch breaks or finding ways to work in walking meetings throughout your day.
Chronic stress raises levels of cortisol and other stress hormones that can increase "carb cravings" and make it difficult to exercise good judgment and willpower.
Look into the many healthy ways to beat stress and find what works best for you.
Studies show having a pet can lower blood pressure. Additionally, pets, especially dogs, can increase your level of physical activity and help you stave off weight gain, as indicated in a study published in the journal Preventive Medicine.
A study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity indicated short night-time sleep as a possible factor contributing to childhood obesity. The researchers found that the odds of becoming obese were higher for four- and five-year-old children who slept less than about 9.5 hours per night, as well as for children who went to bed at 9 p.m. or later.
But if you still gain weight or are unable to lose weight following significant lifestyle changes, it's important to consult a healthcare professional. There may be an underlying medical condition, such as an endocrine disease or one that causes fluid retention.
Visit FightObesity.news for more stories about America's obesity epidemic.
Watch this documentary about obesity in America.
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