As adult obesity rates increase nationally, how does Austin-Travis County fare?


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The latest data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday revealed heightened obesity rates among adults age 18 and older have nearly doubled since 2018. Between 2018 and 2020, the number of states with 35% or more of adults classified as obese has risen from nine to 16, with Texas a new addition to the list.

The following states reported high prevalence of obesity among adults in 2020, including four new states marked by asterisks:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware*
  • Indiana
  • Iowa*
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Ohio*
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas*
  • West Virginia

But how do those rates fare within the state of Texas?

Travis County has the second lowest percentage of obese adults statewide, with 27.9% of adults age 18 and older classifying as obese. It trails behind Collin County, where 26.7% of adults 18 or older are reported as obese.

Among Hispanic adults, only five states and Washington, D.C. reported obesity prevalence lower than 30%. In Texas, between 35% and 40% of Hispanic adults classified as obese.

For non-Hispanic Black adults, only one state — North Dakota — reported obesity prevalence levels below 30%. A total of 24 states reported more than 40% of Black adult residents classified as obese.

People classified as obese are at a higher risk for potentially life-threatening health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, Type II diabetes and some cancers, among others. However, obesity doesn't impact all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups equitably.

Obese individuals are also at a higher risk for more severe illness if they contract COVID-19, per the CDC. Research from the CDC found obese adults face nearly three times the risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19, as well as report weaker immune systems and decreased lung capacity compared to non-obese adults.

Representatives from Austin Public Health were unavailable for an interview Wednesday, but pointed to recent health initiatives the city has implemented in recent years. APH's "Healthy Places Healthy People" campaign highlights the following information:

  • Nutritional tips and where to find fresh produce in Austin neighborhood
  • Free diabetes information classes
  • Advice on how to quit smoking
  • Places to exercise throughout the city along with the health benefits of exercise

For more information about the CDC's latest study, click here.

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