Memorandum

CDC releases 2013 state-by-state obesity data – September 8, 2014

Last Friday, the CDC released its obesity prevalence map for 2013, demonstrating that adult obesity rates remain high across the country. From 2012 to 2013, six US states (Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Wyoming) showed statistically significant increases in adult obesity rates while no states experienced significant declines during the same time period. The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) also released its latest report on “The State of Obesity” documenting these trends in detail in an interactive, informative website. While the rate of increase has begun to plateau (in 2005, obesity rates increased in 49 states), the most recent numbers are a step backwards from the 2011-2012 results, when obesity rates increased in only one state. As well, we are cautious about reports on obesity rates slowing, since we have major concerns about the expansion of the “most” obese patients (for example, above BMIs of 35) and the growth of these levels are not typically reported in general updates on overall obesity rates. Currently, 20 states have adult obesity rates of at least 30%, and two states (Mississippi and West Virginia) have rates above 35%. On a more positive note, though progress on adult obesity seems mixed, the report does indicate that childhood obesity rates have leveled off (obesity rates among young children from low-income families declined in 18 states from 2012-2013). However, while we acknowledge that increased visibility and policy initiatives in areas like early childhood nutrition and physical activity have led to improvements, these stark numbers remind us that far more effort will be necessary to meaningfully confront this epidemic.