Obesity data underscore importance of walkability
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that America’s obesity problem hasn’t gotten any better over the past couple of years, with the overall trend line continuing to tick upward.
Despite no statistically-significant change over the previous period, the numbers from the 2015-2016 analysis show obesity rates continued to climb, with 39.8 percent of adults and 18.5 percent of youth now classified as obese based on body mass index. That compares with an obesity prevalence of 37.7 percent for adults and 18.5 percent for youth for the previous reporting period, 2013-2014.
America Walks Executive Director Kate Kraft says that while there are many factors at play in America’s obesity epidemic, these findings once again underscore the importance of creating environments and policy landscapes that support physical activity, including walking.
“Everyone, no matter where they live, what they look like, how old they are or how much money they make, should have access to safe, appealing opportunities for something as basic as going for a walk,” Kraft said.
The proportion of obese Americans has grown precipitously over the past two decades. In 1999-2000, 30.5 percent of adults qualified as obese and 13.9 percent of youth fell into that category. (Incidentally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 includes a goal of reducing obesity prevalence to 30.5 percent for adults and 14.5 percent for youth.)
According to the most recent findings, obesity prevalence is higher among black and Hispanic adults than the rest of the population and also among adults 40-59, as compared with younger adults.
Among other alarming statistics, the CDC’s analysis showed that 13.9 percent of children age two to five years now classify as obese.
Want to do more to help your community get healthy and active?
- Consider starting a walking school bus or implementing a Safe Routes to School project in your neighborhood to make walking a part your family’s and others’ daily routine.
- Perform a walk audit with family, friends, and neighbors to get active and identify areas in your community that could use improvement, then contact your local council person or policy-making authority to make changes happen.
- Check out resources from the Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Walking and Walkability to Step it Up!