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Report: A quarter of N.H. adults are obese, one of the lowest rates in country



Monitor staff
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

About one-quarter of adults and children in New Hampshire are considered obese, a rate that has stayed stable for at least five years and is one of the lower rates in the country, according to a new report.

This good news is shared by our neighbors. Northern New England as a whole has relatively low obesity rates, with Massachusetts being among the lowest in the country.

This may partly be a reflection of the region’s racial and ethnic makeup. Nationally, whites have a much lower obesity rate than blacks or Latinos, and New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine have the highest percentage of whites of almost any states.

The data comes from the 15th annual report titled “State of Obesity,” released Wednesday by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which raised concern about the continuing health problems of overweight America.

In particular, it noted that from 2012 to 2017, “31 states had statistically significant increases in their obesity rate and no state had a statistically significant decrease in its obesity rate.”

It argues that a wide range of actions need to be taken by governments, the food industry and individuals to reverse the trend.

According to the report, New Hampshire’s obesity rate has stayed level over the five years from 2011 to 2016, the most recent year for which state-specific data was available. It has fluctuated between 26.5 percent and 27.5 percent over that period. At the same time, the national obesity rate has edged upward to 39.6 percent.

In 2016, 23.8 percent of the state’s children were obese, also lower than the national average.

Obesity is defined as body mass index greater than or equal to 30. The report notes that BMI, a number calculated by dividing a person’s weight by their height squared, is “an inexpensive method that is often used as an approximate measure, although it has its limitations and is not accurate for all individuals.”

New Hampshire does relatively well in obesity-related health conditions. About 9 percent of adults have diabetes (among the six best rates of any state) and 29 percent have hypertension or high blood pressure (among the 10 best rates of any state).

The rate of adult obesity in Massachusetts in 2016 was 23.6 percent. In Vermont it was 27.1 percent, and in Maine it was 29.9 percent.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313, dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)