Arizona Counties Label Obesity as Top Public-Health Priority

It might not be surprising, but county health departments in Arizona ranked obesity the top public-health priority, according to a survey in the state's first-ever comprehensive health assessment.

In the past 20 years, Arizona's had a 19 percent increase in the amount of people who are obese or overweight -- the nation's biggest increase in that time span.

More than one-quarter of Arizonans are obese, which is actually below the national average, according to the report. Still more than 60 percent of the state's population is either obese or overweight, and the state's share of obese people has not decreased at any point in recent history.

Coconino County has the smallest proportion of obese and overweight people, at a little less than 59 percent. Greenlee County has the highest percentage, at more than 76 percent. Maricopa County's at 63 percent.

Other statistics in the health report come as no surprise: Only about one-quarter of Arizonans eat the daily recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables. Only a little more than half of Arizonans meet minimum physical activity standards, compared to 76 percent that do in the rest of the country.

The health report also lists some population groups which higher percentages of obesity, none of which are particularly surprising, either:

The report says the plan of attack for the state health department and its partners has been to "help address issues of obesity by focusing on increased physical activity and improving access to healthy foods."

An appendix to the report lists out nearly 30 health department initiatives led by the state health department to combat obesity, plus another dozen sponsored by various community organizations.

Check out the state health report -- which also includes information on drug abuse, tobacco use, teen pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease, and other issues -- by clicking here.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.