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  • Obesity, Physical Inactivity Rates Mostly Stable 2013-2014

    The good news: obesity rates in the United States may have stabilized in 2014. The bad news: that's not good news.

    The most recent "State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America" study, released in September, finds that 2014 adult obesity rates in the US were 20% or more in every state, with 22 states having rates above 30%. That rate does not represent a significant change from 2013. Averaged across the country, more than 30% of adults and 17% of children are considered obese.

    The report tracks state-by-state levels of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and physical inactivity over time (ranges vary by topic), and provides state ratings in each category. In state-by-state analysis of adult obesity, Arkansas topped this year's list with a 35.9% rate, followed by West Virginia (35.7%), and Mississippi (35.5%). The 3 states with the lowest adult obesity rates were Colorado at 21.3%, followed by the District of Columbia (21.7%), and Hawaii (22.1%).

    Physical inactivity—for this report, defined as the percentage of adult respondents who reported no physical activity other than employment-related activity during the previous 30 days—showed a somewhat wider range of difference, with Mississippi and Arkansas at the top of the list with 31.6% and 30.7%, respectively, followed by Louisiana (29.5%) and West Virginia (28.7%). The least physically inactive states were Colorado (16.4% rate of inactivity), Oregon (16.5%), and Utah (16.8%).

    In a joint letter from study sponsors the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America's Health, organization leaders describe "encouraging signs of progress" in terms of declines in childhood obesity rates in some localities, but they write that "there is far more to do and we can't stop now."

    APTA has been a strong advocate in the battle against obesity, and offers multiple resources on the role physical therapists and physical therapist assistants play in addressing prevention and wellness, including a 2-part podcast on the inactivity epidemic (part 1, part 2). Additionally, the consumer-focused MoveForwardPT.com offers a guide to obesity, and PTNow includes several practice guidelines related to obesity. And look for more activity in the future: in 2015, APTA House of Delegates approved a measure to create and strengthen partnerships between the association and other organizations committed to addressing obesity.

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