Press Room

ASTHO Urges Increased Investment to Address Growing Obesity Epidemic

ARLINGTON, VA (Sept. 12, 2019)—Obesity rates in the United States are on the rise, according to new reports from CDC and Trust for America’s Health. The number of states with adult obesity rates above 35% reached an all-time high in 2018, with significant differences by race and ethnicity, mostly tied to social and economic conditions. Only two states had an obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher among non-Hispanic white adults, whereas non-Hispanic black adults had an obesity prevalence of 35% or higher in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

“Obesity increases the risk of chronic diseases, is costly, and impacts our ability to protect our country, with 1 in 4 young adults not ready to serve in our military because they don’t meet health standards,” says Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). “ASTHO believes the single key driver to control obesity in the next 3-5 years is to equip every state and territorial health department with a comprehensive obesity control program. Due to resource constraints, CDC only funds 16 states to implement comprehensive obesity prevention programs. At a time when obesity rates are growing, we strongly urge Congress to act immediately and increase federal appropriations to federal, state, territorial, and local programs. States and territories are well positioned to develop and implement interventions to control the epidemic, but additional resources are needed to do so.”


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice