Minnesota's obesity rate rose in 2020 amid lockdowns and pandemic stresses

The obesity rate in Minnesota saw a slight increase in 2020, as the pandemic led to new challenges.

In 2020, the adult obesity rate moved slightly higher to 30.7 percent, a .06 percent increase over the previous year, a modest but important increase, according to health leaders.

Health officials say the pandemic was challenging for most people, with Minnesotans feeling the toll of COVID-19 stresses and social isolation, on top of the closure of fitness centers for parts of the year.

Health officials say the increase comes as a double gut punch, as people who struggle with obesity also face a greater risk of other serious health concerns -- including COVID-19.

According to a study from the CDC, obesity increased the risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including tripling the risk of hospitalization.

While much of the focus on personal health over the past year and a half has been on COVID-19, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says it's important not to lose sight of other health issues.

"Obesity and other chronic health challenges have been a priority for many years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made progress more difficult," Commissioner Malcolm wrote in a statement. "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."