SEPTEMBER 17, 2020 — About 1 out of 3 Alaska adults has obesity, according to new numbers released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reported that 30.5% of Alaska adults had obesity in 2019. In 2018, the reported percentage for Alaska was 29.5. In 2017, it was 34.2.
Having obesity is concerning because it can increase people’s chances of developing weight-related diseases, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more than a dozen types of cancer. The CDC reported that having obesity also can increase adults’ chances of having serious outcomes from the COVID-19 virus, including hospitalization and death. People who have just one of these health problems — obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure — are three times more likely to need hospitalization if they are sick with COVID-19 than people without those health concerns, according to the CDC. Across the nation, obesity can have a larger impact on some racial and ethnic groups, who also face increased chances for COVID-19, the CDC reported.
“It’s important to try to prevent getting COVID-19 by keeping distance between you and others and wearing face coverings,” said Ann Potempa, acting manager for Alaska’s Physical Activity and Nutrition Program and coordinator for the state’s Play Every Day campaign. “At the same time, it’s also important to be active, choose healthy foods and drinks, get enough sleep and manage stress. Staying in the best possible health year-round can help you prevent or manage serious diseases that worsen outcomes from COVID-19 and can help your body fight the virus if you do get it.”
The CDC shared numbers pulled from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an ongoing telephone survey that asks adults nationwide about their health, and behaviors that affect health. The percentage of Alaska adults with obesity today is more than twice what it was 25 years ago. Today, two out of three Alaska adults are overweight or obese. About one of every three Alaska children is growing up at an unhealthy weight.
The CDC and Alaska’s Physical Activity and Nutrition program focus on supporting healthy, active lives for everyone by making it easier to move and choose healthy foods and drinks where families live, learn, work and play. Alaska’s program and its partners work together in schools, preschools and child care programs, and worksites, and with health care professionals who care for mothers and babies. They support improving the availability of healthy foods and drinks in workplaces. Their work helps Alaskans of all ages be active by ensuring they can walk or bike to everyday destinations, like schools, parks, workplaces and stores. They have focused on educating Alaska parents and their families about the importance of daily physical activity and cutting back on sugary drink consumption.
Alaskans can take steps to maintain a healthy weight and lower their chances of developing weight-related diseases and serious outcomes from COVID-19:
- Get regular physical activity. National recommendations say adults should get at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week, and children should get 60 minutes of activity every day.
- Support elementary-age children to participate in the free Healthy Futures Challenge to log their daily physical activity and build the healthy habit of staying active.
- Limit or eliminate sugary drinks. That includes soda; fruit drinks; powdered mixes; sports, energy and vitamin drinks; and sweetened coffees and teas.
- Support breastfeeding, which has been shown to help babies grow up at a healthy weight.
The CDC 2019 obesity maps are online at https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/prevalence-maps.html. The summary statement on obesity, race and ethnicity, and COVID-19 is available at https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/obesity-and-covid-19.html.