Ky. has the 8th highest obesity rate in the nation

Published 11:24 am Thursday, September 27, 2018

A new report on the health of Kentuckians brings bleak news.

The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, is produced by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It says Kentucky has the eighth highest obesity rate in the nation. It also has the 14th highest obesity rate for youth ages 10 to 17.

Kentucky’s adult obesity rate is currently 34.3 percent, up from 21.7 percent in 2000 and from 12.7 percent in 1990. That is a staggering increase in a little less than three decades. Nationwide, adult obesity rates now exceed 35 percent in seven states, 30 percent in 29 states and 25 percent in 48 states.

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We’ve written about this before and we revisit it again today. Why? It is important. There are lots of reasons why. We know individual health is a personal, private issue, and we do not bring it up to preach or judge. Instead we do so in the hopes of seeking solutions aimed at improving our communities and our citizenry’s quality of life. Better health means better lives, and this is in the interest of all residents of the Commonwealth.

The most obvious reason why we care is obesity is a prolific killer. It is a cause of lives cut short, of profound misery from diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The human suffering caused from these afflictions cannot be overstated. Another reason it is important is quality of life. Severe obesity, over time, often prevents one from doing everything they would want to do in life in their later years. Also, obesity impacts the well-being of our children.

So what is going on? Why is the problem getting worse? The following facts are offered by

— Larger portion sizes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American ate almost 20 percent more calories in the year 2000 than they did in 1983. We suspect that number has gone up even further over the last 18 years.

— Sugar now seems to be added into almost everything. This is a particularly profound culprit.

— Inactivity is the new normal. “It’s been decades since most Americans worked in fields and on factory floors, a far greater majority of us are sitting throughout our workday. This means less exercise.”

Another problem we see day in and day out is that the most convenient, cheapest foods are usually the worst choice possible. But it is possible to eat cheap and also eat healthy. It almost always involves preparing one’s own meals.

It is time, we believe, for a national discussion on our health. Getting healthier is not easy. It is, always, hard work. It will not happen, though, if we don’t start talking about it. As the latest statistics indicate, the time to confront this issue as a nation, and as a state, is now.

The Independent of Ashland