Latest figures have shown that obesity cases are on the rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Did the global health crisis play a role in the surge in obesity cases in sixteen states?

The Latest Figures

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Wednesday that there has been an increase in the number of states with 35% or more obesity cases, from nine in 2018 to 16 in 2020.

Based on the data the pubic health agency collected, the following places now belong to high obesity prevalence states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi and Texas are the four states that were added to the list this year, while the rest of the states have been part of the adult obesity prevalence report of the agency since 2019.

Obesity Defined

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines obesity as the condition of having abnormal or excessive fat accumulation in the body that could impair overall health.

When compared to being overweight based on body mass index, an overweight adult has a BMI greater or equal to 25, while an obese adult has a BMI greater than or equal to 30.

According to the WHO, the fundamental cause of obesity is an imbalance between a person’s calorie intake and their expended calories. Factors such as changes in dietary and physical activity are said to lead to this imbalance. Stress has also been singled out as a contributing factor.

Pandemic And Weight Gain

It is undeniable that the lockdowns amid the pandemic caused many people to change their eating habits and daily routines. Many also suffered anxiety and stress as they lost their jobs in the wake of the health crisis.

“The pandemic has placed many people and communities at greater risk of changing eating habits because of those social and economic disruptions,” Trust for America’s Health CEO Nadine Gracia told USA Today.

Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity medicine physician and scientist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, echoed a similar sentiment, saying that stress could be the main cause of the shift in weight in many adults during the pandemic.

The Solution

After reporting the data it has collected, the CDC vowed to take action and help address the issue by reinforcing the comprehensive efforts of the different parts of the society that seek to address existing health inequalities, such as the lack of access to proper health care by some people.

By mapping out the cases across the country, the public health agency is also able to focus its efforts in places with high obesity prevalence. Such efforts include preventing more obesity cases from happening and providing support to individuals with the health condition.

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