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Current 16 - Report Highlights Negative Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on U.S. Obesity Rates



Trust for America’s Health, a non-partisan public health policy organization, published its 18th annual report on obesity, State of Obesity 2021: Better Policies for a Healthier America, with a focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative effects on social and economic factors impacting obesity. Obesity is associated with an increased risk of many co-morbidities, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and is a factor in serious health outcomes for people with COVID-19.

During the pandemic, shifts in eating habits, limited access to community centers and gyms, housing and food insecurity, stress and anxiety, and other factors contributed to an increased rate of adult and youth obesity and further exacerbated previously existing health inequities.

In 2021, Ohio became one of sixteen states with an adult obesity rate above 35%. In contrast, there were only twelve states with a rate above 35% last year and no states with this rate in 2012. Children are also affected, with nearly 20% of youth experiencing obesity. Obesity disproportionately impacts some racial and ethnic minority groups, with Black adults experiencing the highest level of adult obesity at 49.6%, driven by 56.9% of Black women with obesity.

The report calls for policy changes to address disparities in obesity rates and for the evaluation of social, economic, and environmental conditions that contribute to the national rise in obesity rates. In 2021, Ohio Medicaid released updated guidance on insurance coverage for diabetes and nutrition education as part of a comprehensive approach to healthy eating.

For more information on obesity and social determinants of health in practice, review Cardi-OH’s Spring 2022 TeleECHO Clinic on Weight Management and Behavior Change.




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