- Associated Press - Friday, September 2, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A newly released report says Arkansas is no longer the state with the highest adult obesity rate in the country.

The report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says Arkansas is now number six on the list. About 34.5 percent of adults in 2015 were considered to be obese, based on their reported height and weight. That’s down from 35.9 percent in 2014.

Louisiana, with 36.2 percent, moved into the top spot, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/2bHOrHE ) reports. West Virginia, Mississippi and Alabama tied for second place, with 35.6 percent of their adults considered obese in 2015.

The rankings are based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Arkansas Center for Health Improvement director Joe Thompson says the state’s 2015 obesity rate is a major improvement.

“We didn’t become obese overnight, and we’re not going to be healthy weight overnight either, but we’re moving in the right direction,” Thompson said.

Arkansas did rank number one in obesity among black adults, with 43.9 percent considered obese. The state was second in the nation for white adults and third in the nation for Hispanic adults, with 33.2 percent and 36.9 percent considered obese, respectively.

Thompson says poverty and lifestyle have contributed to high obesity rates in Arkansas and other states in the South. According to him, obesity ranks closely behind tobacco use as “probably the root cause of most illness and premature death.”

According to the report, obesity rates nationwide have leveled off after decades of increasing, remain alarmingly high compared to a generation ago.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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