obesity workplace wellness

Statistics and Guidance from New ‘State of Obesity’ Report

Yesterday we reported on a new U.S. obesity report that shows that focused programs can make a positive difference in obesity rates.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports: “Adult obesity rates are showing signs of leveling off, according to the 14th annual State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)—but progress could be eroded if programs are cut and policies are weakened.”

Said said John Auerbach, president and CEO of Trust For America’s Health: “It’s clear that the progress we’ve made in fighting obesity is fragile—and that we’re at a critical juncture where continuation of the policies that show promise and increased support and resources could truly help bend the rising tide of obesity rates. We’re far from out of the woods when it comes to obesity. But we have many reasons to be optimistic thanks to parents, educators, business owners, health officials, and other local leaders. Our nation’s policymakers must follow their example to build a culture of health.”

The State of Obesity also found that:

  • Colorado had the lowest adult obesity rate at 22.3 percent and West Virginia had the highest at 37.7 percent.
  • Nine of the 11 states with the highest obesity rates are in the South and 23 of the 25 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South and Midwest.
  • Adult obesity rates have striking racial and ethnic inequities—with rates above 40 percent for Blacks in 15 states, and rates at or above 35 percent among Latinos in nine states, compared with rates above 35 percent among Whites in one state.
  • Obesity rates are around 30 percent higher among adults without a college education and with incomes below $15,000 compared with other adults.
  • One in four young adults who try to join the military are ineligible due to fitness and weight concerns.

So what can well-run workplace wellness programs — and policymakers — do? To accelerate progress in addressing obesity, among other tactics, RWJF and TFAH urge policymakers to:”

  • “Invest in prevention at the federal, state and local levels, including full funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
  • Invest in community-based policies and programs, including nutrition assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and transportation, housing, and community development policies and programs that support physical activity.
  • Fully implement menu labeling rules and the updated Nutrition Facts label.
  • Expand healthcare coverage and care, including continued Medicare and Medicaid coverage of the full range of obesity prevention, treatment, and management services.