obesity

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Arkansas’s health experts are offering a mixed reaction to a new report that finds our state making small progress in its fight against obesity.

Tonya Johnson, director of nutritional services at UAMS, welcomes the decline from 35.7 to 35.0 percent for Arkansas’s obesity rate as indicated by the State of Obesity report released earlier this month, but she said that far more needs to be done to move the rate down faster.

“We are still not making drastic changes in our overall behaviors,” she said.

Arkansas continues to struggle with one of the highest obesity rates in the country, a new State of Obesity report released Thursday confirms.

A team from Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to come up with state rankings by weight.

Arkansas’s obesity rate stood at 35.7 percent in 2016. In other words, one in three adults is classified obese. Arkansas tied with Alabama in the ranking as the third worst state in the nation.

Ann Kenda / ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA

About one in three Arkansas residents is obese, and doctors say it’s leading to people dying much younger than they need to, and leading unhealthier lives in the meantime.

“They have more co-morbidities, which means they have other disease processes that basically can shorten their lifespans, such as diabetes and hypertension and heart disease,” said Dr. Shane Speights, dean of the New York Institute of Technology's College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University.  He said since the human body is not meant to carry hundreds of extra pounds, morbidly obese humans may suffer severe hip, joint, knee or ankle pain.