A new report was released by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) that shows 29.5 percent of Arizona adults are obese, ranking our state 34th in the 50 United States and the District of Columbia. We are tied with Alaska and Nevada at that ranking. Nine states have adult obesity rates above 35 percent in 2018, up from seven states at that level in 2017. Arizona’s number remained the same as last year’s figure (29.5%). While I was pleased to see that Arizona has a lower level of obesity among adults than many other states, obesity rates remain alarmingly high.

Obesity prevention efforts throughout the state are contributing to our obesity rates not increasing, but there is much more to be done. In the Arizona Health Improvement Plan: Healthy People, Healthy Communities 2016-2020 we have a specific goal of increasing the number of people who are at a healthy weight. ADHS is committed to four key strategies to make this happen including making affordable and healthy foods more accessible, increasing physical activity, incorporating obesity prevention and treatment into medical care, and empowering all Arizonans to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

The TFAH report is based in part on newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Survey and analysis by TFAH. This is the 16th annual State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report and is made possible by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Throughout ADHS, programs are working with communities to implement many of the recommendations made by TFAH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Empower program supports licensed child care facilities in strengthening obesity prevention and health-related practices. The Arizona WIC Program serves more than 130,000 participants by providing healthy foods, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support. Strong Families AZ provides free home visits to help families raise healthy children. AZ Health Zone works to assist low-income communities to make healthy eating and active living affordable and convenient.

I encourage everyone to continue to work together on strategies in the Arizona Health Improvement Plan that will reduce obesity and pay off in lives saved and reduced healthcare costs.