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A tour of the fattest states of America

Iowa now has the 16th-highest adult obesity rate in the nation, according to a new report published by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America” found that Iowa’s adult obesity rate is currently 30.9 percent, up from 20.9 percent in 2000 and 12.2 percent in 1990. U.S. adult obesity rates remained mostly steady – but high – this past year, increasing in Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah and remaining stable in the rest of the country.

Americans are drinking more bottled water and diet beverages and say they are exercising more frequently than they did before the Great Recession, CBS Marketwatch reported. But they’re also eating more products such as butter and salt, and are spending more time sitting in their cars commuting to and from work.

According to the most recent data, rates of obesity now exceed 35 percent in three states (Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi). Some 22 states have rates above 30 percent, 45 states are above 25 percent, and every state is above 20 percent. Arkansas has the highest adult obesity rate at 35.9 percent, while Colorado has the lowest at 21.3 percent. The data shows that 23 of 25 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South and Midwest.

Among younger adults in Iowa, 15 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 25 are obese, and that rate more than doubles to 31.2 percent of Iowa adults ages 26-44.

Toddlers aren’t exempt from the obesity crisis. For 2- to 4-year-olds in low-income families in Iowa, the obesity rate was 14.4 percent in 2011, the latest data available. However, a  report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August 2013 said that 18 states, including Iowa, and one U.S. territory experienced a decline in obesity rates among 2- to 4-year-olds from low-income families between 2008 and 2011. Over that period, Iowa’s rate fell from 15.1 percent to 14.4 percent.

The projected cases of obesity-related high blood pressure and diabetes in Iowa adults are expected to affect more than 1 million Iowans by 2030 based on current rates. Currently 31.4 percent of Iowa adults have hypertension and 9.5 percent have diabetes.

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