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Minnesota’s obesity rate increased slightly in 2020

FILE — State officials reported Wednesday that Minnesota’s obesity rate increased slightly in...
FILE — State officials reported Wednesday that Minnesota’s obesity rate increased slightly in 2020.(Patrick Sison | AP)
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:26 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:28 PM CDT
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KEYC) — State officials reported Wednesday that Minnesota’s obesity rate increased slightly in 2020.

Data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that Minnesota’s adult obesity rate in 2020 was 30.7%, up from 30.1% in 2019. While the increase of 0.6% is not considered significant, it highlights ongoing public health concerns about obesity rates on a state and national level.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging than ever for Minnesotans and for health professionals to address chronic health concerns such as obesity.

For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic has created high levels of anxiety, stress and feelings of social isolation, which impacts a person’s weight, mental well-being and physical health, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The pandemic has also interfered with the ability of Minnesotans to connect with their health care providers to address other health issues or concerns.

“Obesity and other chronic health challenges have been a priority for many years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made progress more difficult,” Malcolm said. “Even as we work hard to address the impacts of the pandemic, we can’t afford to lose sight of the fact that those other health issues have not gone away. We encourage Minnesotans to safely find ways to work toward a healthy weight by being active, choosing healthy foods and connecting with friends, family and health care providers to come up with a plan to make progress toward greater well-being.”

Poor physical or mental health prevented approximately 41.8% of Minnesotans who are obese from engaging in their usual activities, according to self-reports and analysis of Minnesota’s 2020 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

MDH says this means that Minnesotans who say they are obese were 1.4 times as likely as other Minnesotans to report that poor physical or mental health prevented usual activities for 14 days or more in the past month, according to analysis and the BRFSS survey.

“Turning the tide on obesity will require addressing well-being in all sectors of our communities,” added Malcolm. “We also need to acknowledge the existing health disparities and health inequities and address the social determinants of health, such as poverty and lack of health care access if we are to ensure everyone can be as healthy as possible.”

The national adult obesity rate rose to 31.9% in 2020, up from 31.4% in 2019. The number of states in which at least 35% of residents are obese has nearly doubled since 2018 – and disparities persist – according to the CDC. Minnesota is not included in this group of states, as its obesity prevalence is below 35%.

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