New obesity report calls for tax on sugary drinks, ranks Texas 10th among overweight states

Nine states had adult obesity rates at or above 35% in 2018.


A health policy organization is calling for a tax on sugary drinks, among 30 other policy recommendations, in light of a new report that finds 1 in 3 Americans of all ages is obese.

The Trust for America's Health based its report in part on newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and analysis by TFAH provides an annual snapshot of obesity rates nationwide.

Nine states had adult obesity rates at or above 35% in 2018. That's two more states than were at that level in 2017.

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Texas was ranked No. 10 with an obesity rate of 34.8%. The percentage of people who are either overweight or obese in the state is 69.6%.

Colorado was the only state with an obesity rate of less than 25%.

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Obesity is determined through Body Mass Index. A person with a BMI over 25 is considered overweight. A person with a BMI over 30 is considered obese.

The following are some of the Trust for America's Health report's policy recommendations:

  • Expand the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to age 6 for children and for two years postpartum for mothers. Fully fund the WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Program.
  • Increase the price of sugary drinks through excise taxes and use the revenue to address health and socioeconomic disparities.
  • Ensure that the CDC has enough funding to grant every state appropriate funding to implement evidence-based obesity prevention strategies. Currently, CDC only has enough funding to work with 16 states.
  • Make it more difficult to market unhealthy food to children by ending federal tax loopholes and business cost deductions related to the advertising of such foods to young audiences.
  • Fully fund the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program and other federal programs that support student physical education.
  • Encourage safe physical activity by funding Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS), Complete Streets, Vision Zero and other pedestrian safety initiatives through federal transportation and infrastructure funding.
  • Ensure that anti-hunger and nutrition-assistance programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), WIC and others, follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and make access to nutritious food a core program tenet.
  • Strengthen and expand school nutrition programs beyond federal standards to include universal meals and flexible breakfasts, and eliminate all unhealthy food marketing to students.
  • Enforce existing laws that direct most health insurers to cover obesity-related preventive services at no-cost sharing to patients.
  • Cover evidence-based comprehensive pediatric weight management programs and services in Medicaid.

Click here to read the full report.

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