Minnesota adult obesity rate tops 30 percent, health officials say

Minnesota’s adult obesity rate is continuing to rise, now topping 30 percent, state health officials said Tuesday. 

The state's adult obesity rate rose from 28.4 percent in 2017 to 30.1 percent in 2018, while the national obesity rate rose from 30.1 percent to 30.9 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data is based on responses from a telephone health survey conducted through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. 

The high obesity rate means more Minnesotans are at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, some types of cancer and other serious health conditions, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Obesity is also a driving factor of health care costs. In 2017, the health care costs for Minnesota due to obesity was approximately $3.2 billion.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said the state had managed to keep obesity rates in check for several years, but she blames the popularity of sugary drinks and increased screen time on the recent rise. 

“Sugary drinks are the largest source of added sugars in the American diet, and the added calories from sugary drinks are strongly associated with weight gain and obesity,” Malcolm said in a statement. “Also, young adults between 15 and 18 are spending more than seven and a half hours per day sitting in front of a screen – that’s time they’re not being active.”

Malcolm said combating adult obesity will require an “individual and community-level response.” The state already several efforts underway to create healthy communities, including initiatives designed to increase access to healthy and opportunities for physical activity as well as to improve and expand bike and pedestrian infrastructure.