In 12 U.S. states, at least 35% are obese, 2019 CDC data shows

An overweight woman sits on a chair in Times Square in New York, May 8, 2012. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Adult obesity is rising in the United States, with a greater impact on racial and ethnic minorities, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report showed, at a time when the health condition is seen causing heightened risk for severe COVID-19.

In 2019, at least 35% of the adult population were obese in 12 states, up from nine in 2018, based on data taken from a telephone survey by the CDC and the state health departments.

Alabama had the highest prevalence at 36.1%, followed by Alaska and Arizona, with Wyoming recording the lowest figures, with the health agency warning that obesity triples the odds of being hospitalized for COVID-19.

African American and Hispanic adults had higher prevalence than White adults and were more likely to suffer worst outcomes from COVID-19, the report, released on Thursday, said.

At 39.8%, Black adults suffered the most from the health condition, followed by Hispanic adults at 33.8% and 29.9% among non-Hispanic White adults.

Racial and ethnic minority groups have historically had fewer opportunities for economic, physical, and emotional health, and many of these factors are contributing to the higher level of obesity, the report said.

The U.S. health agency said college educated adults reported lower levels of obesity than people who did not graduate from college and young adults were half as likely to have obesity as middle-aged.

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