By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

The obesity rate in the United States climbed from 2017 to 2019, with 12 states each now reporting an obesity rate of 35% or higher among adults, according to fresh data from the CDC. That is up from six states in 2017 and nine states in 2018.

These data indicate non-Hispanic Black adults self-reported the highest obesity rate (39.8%), followed closely by Hispanic adults (33.8%) and non-Hispanic white adults (29.9%). Racial disparities appear to be widespread: Fifteen states reported an obesity prevalence of 35% or higher among Hispanic adults. For non-Hispanic Black adults, that statistic holds true for 34 states and the District of Columbia. Only six states reported such a figure for non-Hispanic white adults.

“Neighborhood design; access to healthy, affordable foods and beverages; and access to safe and convenient places for physical activity can all impact obesity. The racial and ethnic disparities in obesity underscore the need to address social determinants of health such as poverty, education, [and] housing,” the CDC said in a statement.

The agency noted obesity can compromise the immune system, impair lung capacity, and lead to lower vaccine responses. All this adds up to major trouble if someone is obese and contracts COVID-19. Three recently published papers all underscored this problem. In each study, not only did investigators find obesity leads to a greater likelihood that someone contracts COVID-19, the condition also means the COVID-19-positive person is more likely to end up hospitalized in an ICU and on a ventilator.

The upcoming November issue of ED Management includes an article about another variable that can put an individual at greater risk for COVID-19: substance use disorders. For much more Relias Media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, please click here.