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Report: Obesity At Historic High In Iowa

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More than 35 percent of Iowans are obese, according to a new report.

Iowa has one of the highest obesity rates in the country, according anew report by the non-profit Trust for America's Health.

More than 35 percent of Iowans are considered obese, making it seventh in the nation. That's significantly higher than the national rate of about 31 percent, according to the report.

Nadine Gracia, the executive vice president for Trust for America's Health, said many communities lack access to affordable, healthy food and safe places to exercise.

"In far too many communities it is difficult to be able to do those things," Gracia said. "And so what we're advocating for is to help promote making those healthy choices, really the easy choice by ensuring those conditions exist in neighborhoods and communities across the country."

The report found obesity rates are at a historic high, and more than 100 million Americans are considered obese. 

Seven states, including Iowa, have obesity rates over 35 percent. This is an increase from 2012 when no states had obesity rates this high.

Gracia said she calls this an epidemic because obesity is linked to many major health issues. 

"It can increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and many forms of cancer. So it’s something that needs to be taken seriously," Gracia said. 

The report recommends expanding federal nutrition programs, creating additional taxes on unhealthy food and funding programs that encourage physical activity.

"Solving this is about much more than just what people eat," she said. "It’s really about changing the conditions in people’s lives so that they have the option to make that healthy choice."

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter