Idaho’s obesity rates improve slightly

Idaho adults may not be able to tighten their belts a full notch, but they are moving their waistline measurements in the right direction, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For 2015, 28.6 percent of Idaho adults reported they were obese, which is down slightly from 28.9 percent in 2014. This ranks Idaho with the 19th lowest rate of adult obesity in the nation, and makes the state one of 25 that saw an improvement in 2015.

“We are very happy to see Idaho adults reversing the decades-long increase in obesity in our state, which tripled over the last 25 years,” said Ivie Smart, program manager for Physical Health and Nutrition in the Department of Health and Welfare. “Obesity increases our risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, and results in overall lower quality of life. Eating healthy and being active can reverse that, which an increasing number of Idahoans are embracing.”

Idaho’s obesity rate in 1990 was 9.3 percent, and steadily increased to a peak of 29.6 percent in 2013. 

Obesity is defined as people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. BMI is calculated using a person’s weight and height. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy, while 25.0 to 29.9 is overweight.  For example, a typical healthy weight for someone who is 5-feet, 9-inches tall would be between 125 to 168 pounds, overweight between 169 and 202 pounds, and obese at 203 pounds or more.

In the newly released data, Colorado had the lowest rate of adult obesity at 20.2 percent, while Louisiana tipped the scales with 36.2 percent of adults reporting as obese. More than half of all states reported an obesity rate of 30 percent or more.

Not all Idahoans experienced a decreasing trend in obesity.  The new data shows Idahoans of Hispanic ethnicity had a higher self-reported obesity rate of 36.3 percent, which is sixth highest in the nation.  This is a national trend, with analysis showing that Latino households have a higher rate of food insecurity, poverty, less access to routine healthcare and physical activity opportunities, and language barriers that can contribute to higher rates of obesity.

To view the newly released data, please click here.

To learn more about Idaho’s Physical Activity and Nutrition Program, please click here.

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