One of the nation's most pressing health problems just got worse.

And while the situation isn't as bad in New Jersey as it is in almost any other state, the risks here are still very real, and more severe than they were several years ago.

According to a report released Thursday by Trust for America's Health, 25.7% of New Jersey adults had obesity in 2018.

"New Jersey has among the lowest obesity levels in the country, but that is nothing to be proud of because the rate is disturbingly high," said John Auerbach, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

The report shows only Hawaii, D.C. and Colorado post lower rates. Still, New Jersey's 2018 figure is 1% higher than five years ago, and significantly higher than the rate of 17% posted in the year 2000.

New Jersey's rate has hovered around the 25% to 27% range since 2013.

"Sixty-two percent of adults in the state are either overweight or have obesity," Auerbach added.

Health consequences linked to obesity include increased risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and many types of cancers, the report said. Obesity increases national healthcare spending by an estimated $149 million annually.

For the first time, the annual report recorded adult obesity rates above 35% in nine states. As recently as 2012, that mark wasn't hit by any state.

At 39.5%, Mississippi and West Virginia posted the highest adult obesity rates. Colorado's rate, the lowest nationwide, was 23%.

The report made 31 recommendations for policy action by government at all levels. Recommendations include expanding the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), increasing the price of sugary drinks, and making it more difficult to market unhealthy food to children.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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