- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia has the second-highest rate of obesity among adults in the nation, according to a report released Monday.

The report released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found West Virginia had an obesity rate of 35.7 percent, second only to Arkansas’ 35.9 percent rate. Mississippi was third at 35.5 percent. West Virginia and Mississippi tied for first last year. Both nonprofit groups analyzed CDC figures in releasing the reports.

The report said obesity was prevalent in about 40 percent of West Virginians ages 26 to 64, 31 percent of residents age 65 and older, and 21 percent of those ages 18 to 25. The report ranks West Virginia first in adult diabetes and high blood pressure.

The report came out the same day that West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced grants totaling $100,000 to eight projects that promote healthy living in communities.

Adult obesity rates rose in Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah, and remained mostly steady elsewhere. The report noted that 22 states had rates above 30 percent, compared to just a dozen states in 2010.

In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent. Now, Colorado has the lowest rate at 21.3 percent.

“Efforts to prevent and reduce obesity over the past decade have made a difference,” said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health. “Stabilizing rates is an accomplishment. However, given the continued high rates, it isn’t time to celebrate. We’ve learned that if we invest in effective programs, we can see signs of progress. But, we still haven’t invested enough to really tip the scales yet.”

The only non-Southern states in the top 10 were Indiana, Ohio and North Dakota.

Virginia was 31st with an adult obesity rate of 28.5 percent.

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