NJ obesity rate still at its highest level, report finds
New Jersey posts the 11th lowest obesity rate in the nation among adults, according to a new report.
But since the start of the century, New Jersey's rate of obese adults has shot up by 60 percent.
The 15th annual report from Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation puts the obesity rate at 27.3 percent in 2017 for those aged 18 or older in the Garden State.
That's statistically unchanged from 2016 when the state recorded its highest ever obesity rate — 27.4 percent.
More than 31 percent of those aged 45 to 64 in New Jersey are considered obese, the report finds. At 15.3 percent, the lowest rate was posted by adults between the ages of 18 and 25.
In the year 2000, New Jersey's adult obesity rate was 17 percent. It had risen to 24.1 percent by 2010.
Dr. Felicia Stoler, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and exercise physiologist based in Holmdel, said despite the obvious link between obesity and complications such as heart disease, people aren't making the necessary lifestyle changes to turn things around.
Even small adjustments, she said, can help one balance what they eat — parking further away from the supermarket, for example, or standing in the back of an all-day conference, rather than sitting for hours.
And there's no excuse for little to no physical activity, she said. Being physically active outdoors is free, and shopping malls provide a fine workout space when the weather isn't ideal.
"People are looking for a quick fix, and a lot of those quick fixes come with a rebound effect where people will gain the weight back, and then some more," Stoler said.
As for maintaining a healthier diet, Stoler said residents need to be eating more plant-based foods — not a hard task in New Jersey.
"This is the Garden State. We have some of the most amazing produce that's grown in the country right here in our backyard," she said. "I'm not saying you have to be vegan or vegetarian."
Seven states, according to the report, recorded an adult obesity rate of 35 percent or higher in 2017. New Jersey was one of 12 states with a rate below 28 percent.
With a combination of federal and state dollars, the New Jersey Department of Health has invested more than $10 million to reduce and prevent obesity over the past five-plus years.
"Building on ShapingNJ, the public-private partnership for nutrition, physical activity and obesity prevention created in 2009 with more than 230 partners, work is taking place across six settings where residents live, work, learn, play and pray — that is, in communities, healthcare, schools, early care and education centers, businesses and faith-based organizations," a spokesperson said.