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Report: Iowa's Rate Of Adult Obesity One Of The Highest In The Nation

A new report has found Iowa has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation.
A new report has found Iowa has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation.

A new report has found Iowa’s rate of adult obesity increased significantly last year, meaning Iowa now has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation.

The report by the non-profit Trust for America’s Health found 36.5 percent of adult Iowans, figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were considered obese last year.

This means Iowa is now one of 16 states with a rate above 35 percent, and it is tied with Delaware for the seventh highest rate in the nation.

Dara Lieberman, the director of government relations for Trust for America’s Health, said the shift in many people’s daily routines and reported decrease in physical activity during the pandemic may have contributed to the increase.

"We have seen several studies come out in the last year, including surveys of adults nationwide, that showed a large proportion of adults with unwanted weight gain and in some cases very significant weight gain," she said.

Lieberman said obesity rates differed along racial lines due to social and economic factors with Black Iowans having higher rates than white and Latino Iowans.

"In Iowa, if you're a Black adult, you have a higher risk of poverty and a lack of insurance, so those also put people at risk for obesity," she said.

According to the report, 45.4 percent of Black Iowans were considered obese, compared to 36.4 percent of Latino Iowans, 35.3 percent of white Iowans and just 13.4 percent of Asian Iowans.

The report found 15.3 percent of Iowans ages 10 to 17 were considered obese from 2018 to 2019, ranking the state 30th in the country.

Lieberman said this marks a slight decrease from the previous year, but she said other statistics indicate Iowa's kids are at risk of seeing that rate increase.

"We do see that only about 25 percent of kids in Iowa are physically active every day, and 80 percent of kids in Iowa live in neighborhoods that don't have sidewalks, parks or playgrounds," she said. "So we really need to be giving kids a chance to be healthy and active."

Lieberman says lawmakers need to push for more resources to be invested in combating obesity, as the condition is known to increase risk for many conditions including heart disease, diabetes and severe illness from COVID-19.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter