THURSDAY, Sept. 17, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Adult obesity in the United States continues to rise, and being obese increases the risk of severe illness in people with COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.
Agency data also show that racial and ethnic disparities in obesity rates persist.
New CDC maps for 2019 put adult obesity rates in 12 states at or above 35%: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
That's up from six states in 2017 and nine states in 2018.
Combined data from 2017-2019 show significant racial and ethnic differences in adult obesity rates.
Obesity rates were 35% or higher among Black people in 34 states and the District of Columbia; among Hispanics in 15 states, and among white adults in six states.
Along with the maps, the CDC released a summary statement on obesity and race and ethnicity as related to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
It said obesity worsens COVID-19 outcomes, increasing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death, and that obesity disproportionately affects some minority groups who are also at increased risk for COVID-19.
"These disparities underscore the need to remove barriers to healthy living and ensure that communities support a healthy, active lifestyle for all," the CDC said in an agency news release. While major changes can take time, small steps now can help during the pandemic, it added.
"Being active and eating a healthy diet can support optimal immune function and help prevent or manage chronic diseases that worsen outcomes from COVID-19," the CDC said. "These actions, as well as getting enough sleep and finding healthy ways to cope with stress can help with weight maintenance and improve overall health."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on obesity, race/ethnicity and COVID-19.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Sept. 17, 2020