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COLUMN: Why Kentucky needs to make healthy changes

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By Theresa Howard

 Here is the latest Kentucky health statistics for Adult Obesity, Physical Activity and Nutrition. This health information came from Partnership for a Fit Kentucky. 

A look at the numbers:

· Kentucky ranked 10th highest in the U.S. for adults who were obese.

· Kentucky is one of 12 states with obesity rates greater than 30 percent.

· 66.2 percent of adult Kentuckians are overweight or obese.

· 72.6 percent of men and 60 percent of women in Kentucky are overweight or obese.

What’s the cost? Being overweight or obese greatly increases the risk of developing other chronic diseases and unwanted health conditions like diabetes, stroke, arthritis, sleep apnea, asthma, heart attack and certain cancers.

In 2013, Kentuckians are estimated to spend close to $2.4 billion in medical costs linked to obesity. Experts project Kentucky health care costs attributable to obesity will be $6 billion in 2018, or $1,836 a year per adult.

Physical activity - Only 46.8 percent of adults in Kentucky achieved the CDC’s recommendation of 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week. Only 26.3 percent of adults in Kentucky participated in muscle-strengthening activities more than twice a week. And 29.3 percent of adults in Kentucky reported that they had not participated in any physical activity in the past month.

Nutrition - Only 24.4 percent of adults consumed the recommended servings of fruits per day in Kentucky. Only 29.4 percent consumed the recommended servings of vegetables per day in Kentucky. Eating enough fruits and vegetables is lowest among men, those with lower levels of education and those with lower incomes.

Carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet, providing about 7 percent of calories. Frequent consumption of soft drinks has been linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, tooth decay and kidney stones. Each additional sugary drink consumed per day increases the likelihood of a child becoming obese by about 60 percent.

It would take the average adult over one hour of walking to burn off the 240 calories in a 20 ounce regular soda. Drinking one or two sugary drinks per day increases your risk for type 2 diabetes by 25 percent.