Nearly one-third of adult Kansans have obesity, according to a new report that also shows ethnic disparities in obesity rates in the state.
Kansas ranks 18th in the nation, with 32.4 percent of adults having obesity, a study by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found.
“Obesity is a complex and often intractable problem, and America’s obesity epidemic continues to have serious health and cost consequences for individuals, their families and our nation,” said John Auerbach, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health.
According to the organization, obesity costs $149 billion in healthcare spending and $66 billion in lowered economic productivity.
Overall, West Virgina ranks first with 38.1 percent of adults having obesity while Colorado comes in last at 22.6 percent.
In terms of race and ethnicity, 41.2 percent of blacks, 36.8 percent of Latinos and 32 percent of whites have obesity in Kansas.
Nearly 22 percent of Kansans age 18 to 24 have obesity, leading Kansas to rank eighth nationally in that age group.
State agencies and organizations are addressing the growing obesity rate through a number of initiatives.
The Kansas Health Foundation invests in policy, systems and environmental change efforts aimed at reducing factors that contribute to chronic diseases like obesity, spokeswoman Kristi Zukovich said.
The organization supports programs targeted at different audiences. More than 525 work sites participate in WorkWell Kansas which helps make work environments healthier. They are also involved in supporting community gardens, community walkability and trails. KHF has invested more than $4 million towards loans and grants for local grocery stores, Zukovich said.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment leads state-level efforts aimed at obesity-related issues, bureau director of health promotion Ryan Lester said.
The agency collaborates with local-level partners on diabetes, heart disease and stroke initiatives. It also promotes physical activity and healthy eating for adults and children.
Working with the Kansas Department of Education, KDHE also works on school-based obesity prevention, Lester said.
The report includes 40 recommendations for policymakers, the restaurant and food industries and the health care system.