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New Data

State Policies to Prevent Obesity

Strong state policies play a key role in improving access to healthy food and increasing physical activity, which are essential for helping children grow up at a healthy weight.

This feature tracks the status of each state’s efforts on more than 20 policies aimed at preventing obesity and supporting health.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Research

March 2019

Work Waivers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a rule to tighten SNAP work waivers. A new analysis finds that more than 1 million SNAP participants could be affected, and that the vast majority of them live alone and in deep poverty.

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Energy Assistance

Provisions included in the House Farm Bill would have resulted in up to 1.1 million households that received SNAP benefits in 2017 experiencing an up to $75 cut in their monthly benefit. The provision was not included in the Farm Bill that became law.

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An earlier analysis found that about one in 11 households receiving SNAP benefits, roughly 2 million in total, would lose eligibility under certain provisions of the House Farm Bill. These provisions were removed before the bill was signed into law.

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New Data

Nearly One in Six Young People Has Obesity

October 2018—Nationwide, 15.8 percent of young people ages 10 to 17 have obesity, according to the newest national data. Mississippi has the highest youth obesity rate, at 26.1 percent, while Utah has the lowest, at 8.7 percent.

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Deeper Dive on New Youth Data

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (HRSA MCHB) funds and directs the annual National Survey of Children’s Health, which includes the new national and state-by-state obesity rate data for youth ages 10 to 17. We asked a few questions to Dr. Lydie Lebrun-Harris, a senior social scientist in the Office of Epidemiology and Research at HRSA MCHB about what the new data tell us.

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The State of Childhood Obesity

The federal government monitors obesity rates among children and teens with major surveys that track national trends and state rates. According to NHANES (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), 18.5% of youth ages 2 to 19 had obesity in 2015-16, the highest rate ever documented by the survey.

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In 2017, 26.1% of high school students met physical activity guidelines, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.

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In 2015-16, 18.5% of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 had obesity, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

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According to the same survey, in 1999-2000, 13.9% of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 had obesity.

Learn More About Trends
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New Data

Adult Obesity Rates Rise in Six States, Top 35% in Seven

September 2018 – Adult obesity rates increased in Iowa, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina between 2016 and 2017, and remained stable in the rest of states. The adult obesity rate was at or above 35% in seven states and at least 30% in 29 states. West Virginia has the highest adult obesity rate at 38.1% and Colorado has the lowest at 22.6%.

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West Virginia has the highest rate of adult diabetes, 15.2%. Diabetes rates rose in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Jersey and South Dakota between 2016 and 2017.

Diabetes Data
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Eight of the 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension are in the South. West Virginia has the highest rate at 43.5%.

Hypertension Data
Updated: September 2018

Physical Inactivity 

Kentucky has the highest rate of physical inactivity among adults, 34.4%. Nine of the 10 states with the highest rates are in the South.

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