Although it's too soon to start ringing the bells and tooting horns to celebrate, Iowa's long-maligned obesity rate shows, perhaps, a positive trend.
Iowa has long had the reputation as having, per capita, too many obese and overweight people. Two-thirds of the state's residents are in this category.
More encouraging news comes from the Iowa Department of Public Health's 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (what a mouthful!). It shows the prevalence of obesity has remained stable in Iowa.
In 2013, some 67 percent of Iowans were obese or overweight; that number was 66.9 percent in 2014, the survey showed.
"It's too early to tell if this is the beginning of a decline in obesity rates in Iowa, Don Shepherd said. Shepherd coordinates the behavioral risk survey for the public health department in Des Moines.
"Even though it’s encouraging that the upward trend has at least paused, obesity is still a serious challenge in Iowa. Iowa’s prevalence of overweight and obesity at nearly 67 percent is still significantly above the U.S median of 64.9 percent," Shepherd added.
Encouraging data from the report includes:
• Iowa ranked in the top ten best states for general health. Only 13.6 percent of Iowans rated their health as fair or poor.
• The percent of Iowans 50 years and older who reported ever having had a colonoscopy (screening for colon cancer) increased to 71.1 percent.
• Iowa ranks among the top 10 states for people ages 65 years and older receiving an influenza vaccination in the past year (66.8 percent).
Areas where improvement is needed include:
• Iowa is among the top five states for binge drinking; 21.4 percent of respondents reported having at least one binge drinking episode (a man drinking more than five drinks or a woman drinking more than four drinks on one occasion) in the past 30 days.
• The percent of women having a Pap test (screening for cervical cancer) in the past three years declined from 78 percent in 2012 to 75.8 percent in 2014.
• Of those surveyed, 4.8 percent of Iowans admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol. Only one state had a higher prevalence.
To learn about BRFSS and see the entire 2014 report, visit www.idph.iowa.gov/brfss.