News release: Despite uptick, Minnesota’s adult obesity rate growing slower than Upper Midwest States

News Release
September 12, 2018

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Despite uptick, Minnesota’s adult obesity rate growing slower than Upper Midwest States

Minnesota alone in Midwest staying below 30 percent

Minnesota’s adult obesity rate rose to 28.4 percent in 2017 but continued to outperform neighboring states with a slower rate of increase. 

The Minnesota adult obesity rate increased 0.7 percentage points between 2016 and 2017. Minnesota also continued a recent trend of being lower than Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Minnesota is now the last state in the Midwest, a 12-state census region, with an obesity rate below 30 percent. The national rate also rose to 30.1 percent, according to data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Minnesota’s obesity rate has remained well under the national obesity rate since 2007.

CDC released 2017 state- and territory-specific data on adult obesity prevalence using self-reported information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) uses these data to inform the public about the prevalence of obesity in the state, track changes over time and support planning of public health interventions to reduce obesity.

chart showing adult obesity rate in the 5 state area

MDH researchers analyzed CDC data from 2017 and found that physical activity and diet continue to have a significant influence on Minnesota’s obesity rates. According to 2017 BRFSS data, Minnesotans who reported some physical activity in the past 30 days had a lower obesity rate than those who did not. Lower obesity rates were also found for those who reported eating at least one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables per day.

“The latest information from the CDC emphasizes that we have more work to do in our state,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “At the same time, it shows that Minnesota is outperforming our neighbors. Plus, our analysis shows healthy eating and physical activity make a difference. This underscores the value of our Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) and other initiatives that increase opportunities for people around the state to eat healthier and move more.” MDH has integrated the 2017 CDC data into Minnesota’s Public Health Data Access portal.

Prevalence of Self-Reported Obesity Among US Adults by State and Territory BRFSS 2017

Following national trends, Minnesota’s obesity rate increased starting in 1995, rising to 26.3 percent in 2007. Since then, the state’s rate ranged from 25.2 percent to 28.4 percent, whereas the national rate steadily rose above 30 percent. In 2015-2017, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic Minnesotans have higher rates of obesity compared to non-Hispanic Whites (30.4 percent, 33.3 percent and 27.5 percent, respectively).

People who are obese face an increased risk for a range of serious diseases and health conditions, including high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, coronary heart disease and cancer. Preventing obesity requires changes in the food and physical environments, personal behavior and social norms. Research estimates that obesity cost the state $2.8 billion in 2009 dollars.

SHIP, which is active in all 87 counties and 10 tribal nations, spends $17.5 million per year from Minnesota’s Health Care Access Fund to support grant funding for local efforts to create healthier communities. From August 2016 to September 2017, SHIP communities worked with more than 4,000 partner sites across Minnesota.

SHIP works across Minnesota to implement locally led strategies that expand access to healthy food and physical activity in neighborhoods, schools, worksites and health care settings. It also supports state initiatives to improve and expand bike and pedestrian infrastructure and national efforts to promote walking and walkable communities.


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith
MDH Communications