Study: Wisconsin Ranks 23rd For Adult Obesity

State Has Held Steady At 31 Percent In Recent Years

M. Spencer Green/AP Photo

Wisconsin didn’t get any skinnier in the last year. But it also didn’t gain any weight. Wisconsin’s adult obesity rate sits at about 31 percent, near where it has been for the last few years, according to an annual report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Only one state, Kansas, saw a noticeable decrease in obesity. Wisconsin ranks 23rd nationally, according to the report.

RWJF’s Dr. Donald Schwarz says more needs to be done.

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“The great hope we have is to see more progress around physical activity. And what you can find in the report is information on the number of states where we are not seeing that. In fact people are increasingly becoming inactive,” Schwarz said.

The report notes Wisconsin law requires a minimum amount of physical education for elementary, middle and high school students. It also states 39 percent of adults in Wisconsin are considered inactive.

“While what we eat is more directly important to our immediate weights, long-term health and long-term issues with obesity related, for instance, to diabetes are very much affected by physical activity. And we hope to see more progress on physical activity as we go forward,” Schwarz said during a teleconference Thursday to announce the report’s findings.

Local experts agree, but say getting out the message about physical activity isn’t enough.

“Everybody knows that they should be more active. But we’ve designed society to be relatively sedentary,” said Pat Remington, associate dean for public health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. “Most of us have sedentary jobs. Most of us depend on cars to get to work and where we recreate. Fundamentally we need to redesign society so we are active in daily living.”

Remington, who wasn’t involved in the study, said Wisconsin’s unchanged obesity rate in the last few years is good news, but “not great news. It would be better if we saw decreases in the rates of obesity.”

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