New data shows more Utahns becoming obese

A new report from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) shows that 30% of Utah adults in the unhealthy weight category have moved to a higher risk level and are now considered obese.

Among Utah adults at an unhealthy weight, the percentage who were obese rose from 32.8% in 1999 to 41.7% in 2017, a 30% increase. Utah youth face the same rising proportion of obesity as adults, according to the report.

“That shift from people going from an overweight to an obese category is actually quite alarming,” according to Emily Hoffman, a Registered Dietitian at Logan Regional Hospital. “When we shift to the obese category, our risk for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure or even certain cancers increases significantly.”

In fact, the report showed the risk for hearth attack, stroke, and/or angina was nearly 40% higher for adults considered obese compared to adults considered overweight. The prevalence of diabetes was more than two times higher for adults who were obese compared to those who were overweight (14.2% vs 6.6%).

“What research has found, and this applies to the obese category as well,” said Hoffman, “if we can lose about 5% to 10% of our body weight and start exercising about 30 minutes a day, our risk for all those diseases associated with obesity decrease.”

The proportion of Utah high school-aged youth at an unhealthy weight who were obese increased from 38% to 42%, according to the report. This represents a 12% increase of youth who have moved to a higher risk level of unhealthy weight.

“We find that if youth can adopt certain healthy lifestyle habits like getting exercise and eating more fruits and vegetables,” said Hoffman, “their weight either goes down or will be stable enough that in time they will jump back on their growth chart and be able to get back to a healthy weight.”

These and other obesity prevention efforts may be found at http://choosehealth.utah.gov.

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