Last Updated: November 2020
Author: Physical Activity & Nutrition Program, Vermont Department of Health
In 2018, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data showed that 29% of Vermont adults age 20 and older are obese. This is higher than in 2017, when the prevalence was 28%, however the difference is not statistically significant. We know that obesity prevalence rises with age, and that adults with a high school education or less and a lower income are more likely to be obese.
While we do not know specific causes of this recent rise, we know that the rate for adults with no leisure time activity was 18% in 2018 or almost one in five Vermont adults get no physical activity outside of the workplace. Additionally, of concern is that the rate of fruit consumption among adults with 40% of adults eating two or more fruits a day in 2017. 22% of adults reported eating three or more vegetables a day in 2017. While these two measures have shown an increase between 2015 and 2017, they are still quite low.
Obesity is a major health concern due to its connection to many chronic diseases. Heart disease, diabetes and many forms of cancer are linked to obesity. In Vermont, we see high rates of these diseases and see the linkage between health behaviors such as getting the recommended amount of physical activity and eating a healthy diet (as well as tobacco use). Together with lung disease, these chronic diseases were the cause of 53% of deaths in Vermont in 2016. This has led us to organizing our work to highlight these preventable diseases through 3-4-50 (see Strategies below for more information).
We now also know that those with obesity and chronic diseases are at higher risk for COVID-19 complications. It is more important than ever to work to reduce obesity rates in Vermont.