A national group seeking a stronger government response to obesity ranks Iowa the 20th most obese state in the U.S. According to the Trust for America’s Health, over 23 percent of Iowa adults are obese. Tim Lane of the Iowa Department of Public Health has read the report, but he doesn’t like the word “obesity.” “I don’t like talking about obesity because there’s a lot of folks (who) are walking around (who) are thin (who) aren’t fit and there are some overweight folks who are in probably better health than their (thin) brethren,” Lane says. Lane hopes this study may prompt Iowans to think about their own health. “I’m generally alarmed by how many Iowans do not know their ‘numbers’ — whether it be cholesterol or their blood pressure,” Lane says. Lane says those are factors related to obesity, and coupled with that is a less-than-active lifestyle and eating habits. Lane says he’s always surprised when he reviews these state-by-state health rankings that Iowa also ranks so low in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, since Iowa is a state with lots of gardens and farmers’ markets. According to the report, just over 61 percent of Iowans are either overweight or obese. “Almost each and every one of us, I think, can do some small steps to improve our health,” Lane says. “Oftentimes people want to turn over the whole tree and not a new leaf.” Lane counsels Iowans to take smaller steps that are achievable, and “go from there.” The Iowa Department of Public Health has just gotten two federal grants to help promote physical fitness and healthier lifestyles. And Lane says the state will continue with its “Lighten Up, Iowa” effort which encourages teams of Iowans to compete to lose weight. You can find more information on the Trust for America’s Health report on-line at www.healthyamericans.org.
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