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Feature Story

October 2017


Adult Obesity Rates Leveling Off

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Improving Kids' Wellness—In the Classroom - October 2017

Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Development Continues - September 2017

Louisville Splash 'n' Dash 5K Raises $35,000+ for Norton Children's Hospital - September 2017

Philadelphia Eagles Go Green - September 2017

High School Sports Participation Up, Nearing 8 Million - September 2017

Inside South Side High School's Redevelopment - August 2017

New Health Research Conducted at Special Olympics - August 2017

Protect Players From Heat - August 2017

Tackling the Active Play Deficit - August 2017

Botanical Garden Partners With Businesses on Health - July 2017

Survey Examines Parents' View of Play - July 2017

Kids Swim Free in Tucson This Summer - July 2017

Building Communities to Encourage Physical Activity - June 2017

California Campus Converts Courts to Golf Practice Space - June 2017

Where Are the Nation's Top City Park Systems? - June 2017

KaBOOM! Brings Play to Military Kids - May 2017

USA Basketball Open Court Sessions Get Youths Into the Game - May 2017

Educators Push Legislators to Support Health & Physical Education Programs - May 2017

NFHS Revises Rules for Competitive Spirit Squads - May 2017

Pool & Spa Professionals Fight Immigration Restrictions - April 2017

Grants Available to Boost Dog Parks - April 2017

New Aquatic Management Program Aims to Improve Safety, Efficiency - April 2017

16 Cities Nationwide to Receive Park Improvement Funding - April 2017

Study Confirms: People Pee in Pools - March 2017

Volunteers Get Hands-On History Experience in Virginia - March 2017

Park Hop Inspires Park Usage - March 2017

National Health Campaign Reaches 228,000 Youth in Three Years - March 2017

Outdoor REC Act Signed Into Law - February 2017

Happy 125th B-Day B-Ball! - February 2017

Study Shows Majority—Even Athletes—Are 'Overfat' - February 2017

Gym-Goers Like YMCA Best; Planet Fitness Winning Market Share - February 2017

Georgia State Park Celebrates Its Dark Sky Status - January 2017

Texas Tech Focuses on Functional Fitness - January 2017

Preventing Pool Closings - January 2017

Majority of U.S. Households Visit Attractions - January 2017

City of Henderson Awarded for Water Safety Programs - December 2016

Grant Brings Outdoor Fitness Area to Park - December 2016

Alliance Recommends Actions to Improve Kids' Activity Stats - December 2016

Retractable Enclosures Help YMCAs Cut Costs, Boost Membership - November 2016

Huge Project Seeks to Rebuild Monarch Habitats - November 2016

Report: Camping More Popular Than Ever - November 2016

ACSM Predicts 2017 Fitness Trends - November 2016

CDC: More Than One-Quarter of 50-Plus U.S. Adults Don't Exercise - October 2016

Park District Recognized for Collaboration Efforts - October 2016

Americans Support Increased Local Funding for Parks & Rec - October 2016

High School Sports Participation Up for 27th Consecutive Year - October 2016

National Park Service Celebrates 100 Years of Successful Partnerships - October 2016

By Chandler Garland

The 14th annual State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood John Foundation (RWJF) shows adult obesity rates to be leveling off or even declining in some states.

West Virginia, the state with the highest rate of obesity, still ranked number 1 in 2000, but with a rate of only 23.9 percent as opposed to 37.7 percent, which it is sitting at now. These numbers have been steadily rising in all states since 2000, Before 2000, no state had an obesity rate above 25 percent. This year, however, adult obesity rates have been shown to exceed 35 percent in five states (West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana), to exceed 30 percent in 25 states, and 25 percent in 46 states.

However, in the past year, obesity rates have only increased in four states (Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, and West Virginia), decreased in Kansas, and remained stable in all other states. This means that obesity rates are in fact stabilizing throughout the country, making rates in all states ripe for decline.

This tenuous success is in danger of collapse if policy-makers on the federal, state and local levels continue to cut programs that have led to increased health and awareness.

"Obesity rates are still far too high, but the progress we've seen in recent years is real and it's encouraging," said Richard E. Besser, M.D., president and CEO of RWJF. "That progress could be easily undermined if leaders and policy-makers at all levels don't continue to prioritize efforts that help all Americans lead healthier lives."

In the 2017 enacted budget, community-based programs such as the CDC's Division of Nutrition, the CDC's School Health Programs, the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, USDA's SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and New Markets Tax Credits have either maintained their budget or received major cuts. SNAP, also known as Food Stamps, has seen a 3 percent decrease in its budget between 2016 and 2017.

In addition to the full funding of these community-based programs, the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood John Foundation also encourage policy-makers to continue full funding for the CDC and the Prevention and Public Health Fund. These organizations also highly advise the maintenance of childhood policies and programs as well as school-based policies and programs. A focus on providing appropriate guidance and availability of healthy options to children is the number one sited way by State of Obesity to decrease future obesity issues in America. These programs include both nutrition standards in schools and physical activity programs.

Furthermore, beyond food and nutrition, access to public parks, sidewalks, and safe bike lanes in communities is also cited as a crucial factor in decreasing obesity in America. Eating healthy is only half the battle, getting people to choose physically active pastimes and modes of transportation is key to the continued stabilization and decline in obesity.