MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The obesity rate for Minnesota residents has topped 30% for the first time, according to new national numbers.

Minnesotans are obese at a rate of 30.1% in 2018, as compared to the national obesity rate of 30.9%. That’s according to a report from the 16th annual “State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America” released by the Trust for America’s Health.

The report is based in part on newly released date from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nationally, the report says the obesity rate has reached historic levels. As recently as 2012, no state had an adult obesity rate over 35 percent.

“Nine U.S. states had adult obesity rates at or above 35 percent in 2018, up from seven states at that level in 2017,” the report said. “The nine are: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia.”

Minnesota hasn’t been immune to obesity rate increases either. Between 2013 and 2018, Minnesota’s adult obesity rate increased by more than 15 percent. And the adult obesity rate rose from 28.4% in 2017 to the aforementioned 30.1% figure for 2018.

“Obesity is more than just a health concern for individual Minnesotans – it’s a major challenge for the entire state,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “Addressing this challenge requires an individual and community-level response, including smart changes to our food and physical environments.”

The Minnesota Department of Health says 2017 health care costs due to obesity were estimated to be $3.2 billion.

The report also highlights that obesity rates are very much linked to social and economic conditions, thus those with lower incomes are at an elevated risk of obesity. The same goes for minority populations.

“People of color, who are more likely to live in neighborhoods with few options for healthy foods and physical activity, and, are the target of widespread marketing of unhealthy foods, are also at elevated risk,” the report said.

For children, the national obesity rate was 18.5% in 2015-2016, which is the most recent available data.

In order to address the issue, the report calls for taxes on sugary drinks, expanded SNAP and WIC nutrition support programs and building an environment that encourages physical activity.

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