CDC: 3 in 10 Minnesota adults are obese

Published 10:32 am Saturday, September 14, 2019

ST. PAUL — Minnesota, you’re getting fatter.

A state that likes to think it’s special has an adult obesity rate that has climbed above 30 percent for the first time, according to survey data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Minnesota’s rate of 30.1 percent in 2018 is up from 28.4 percent the previous year. What’s more, it’s drawing near the national rate of 30.9 percent, according to CDC data released this week.

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State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas remains a problem — “the largest source of added sugars in the American diet” — along with too much sedentary time on computers and cell phones.

The Star Tribune says Malcolm cites research showing that teens spend more than 7½ hours a day in front of a screen.

“That’s time they’re not being active,” she said.

Although the change from 2017 to 2018 was modest, it represented the third consecutive increase in Minnesota. Obesity has been linked to diabetes and heart disease as well as certain forms of cancer.

Obesity is defined as a body mass index above 30, which is a relative measure of weight vs. height. Thirty is roughly the BMI for a man who is 5 feet 10 and weighs 209 pounds.

Minnesota health officials began sounding the alarm on obesity in 2001, the last year when the state’s adult rate was below 20 percent. The number had changed only gradually in subsequent years, holding at less than 26 percent from 2007 through 2013.

The Star Tribune reported that public health officials have hoped that aggressive prevention efforts would hold down the rise of obesity. A program called Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, or SHIP, began in 2011 to give grants to communities for things like walking paths, farmers markets and other strategies for healthier living.

Although the change from 2017 to 2018 was modest, it represented the third consecutive increase, and state leaders are taking it seriously, said Kristine Igo, who directs statewide health improvement efforts for the Minnesota Department of Health.

The data showed persisting racial gaps in obesity. American Indian adults had the highest adult obesity rate in the state at 42.2 percent last year. The rate for Hispanic adults exceeded 34 percent.