Obesity rates fall in a few states, but are still far higher than 1990, part 2

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Is the message that the nation is getting too fat beginning to sink in?

The answer is “yes but,” says the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit, non-partisan group that aims to protect the health of communities and make disease prevention a national priority.

And a study of healthcare quality and quantity across the nation suggests some reasons why things are not improving uniformly.

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Hamburg told me 30 million people don’t have easy access to a supermarket; many residents in dense urban areas have to walk or take public transportation more than a mile to get more than a “convenience store” selection. Many in rural areas must drive 10 miles or more. 

See part two in next week’s Item.

Powerful marketing from the food industry is also a culprit, beckoning consumers to eat pizza, overstuffed tacos, and sodas without regard for the effect on their weight or health.

I usually don’t pay much attention to state rankings from various groups. Most people aren’t going to move to another state just because it ranks better on whatever is being measured.

But this time I did because as the obesity report came out, a personal finance website, WalletHub, announced its latest report “2016’s States with the Best & Worst Health Care.” And I was struck by a possible connection.

What did WalletHub have to say about those states in the South and Midwest with high numbers of people who are obese?

Were they getting routine examinations, and dental care? Were physicians accepting Medicare?

Were there adequate hospital beds particularly, in rural areas where many hospitals have closed?

Now I didn’t attempt to do a scientific correlation, and there may be many reasons why a state’s healthcare system ranks high or low on the WalletHub site. B

ut for me, the take-away from these studies is that communities must offer not only treatment for health problems relating to obesity but also ways to prevent the underlying cause in the first place.

Communities must have not just enough and appropriate medical facilities and personnel but also programs to encourage better eating habits and more physical activity.

The Trust report offers suggestions that point in that direction.

To learn more about how your state ranks on both these studies, go to stateofobesity.org and wallethub.com. 

By Trudy Lieberman