U.S. shows signs of progress in controlling obesity rates

feet on scale weighing
One nurse is trying to take the dread out of getting on the scale at the doctor's office. (Rostislav_Sedlacek/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

For the second year in a row, adult obesity rates show signs of leveling off, but the news comes with the warning that progress could be eroded if lawmakers cut programs and weaken policies.  

Between 2015 and 2016, adult obesity rates decreased in one state (Kansas), increased in four (Colorado, Minnesota, Washington and West Virginia) and remained steady in the rest, according to the 14th annual State of Obesity report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The report supports trends that show steadying levels of obesity rates after years of rapid increases. However, while rates have leveled off, adult obesity rates now exceed 35% in five states, top 30% in 25 states and top 25% in 46 states.

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"Obesity rates are still far too high, but the progress we've seen in recent years is real and it's encouraging," Richard E. Besser, M.D., president and CEO of RWJF, said in an announcement. "That progress could be easily undermined if leaders and policy makers at all levels don't continue to prioritize efforts that help all Americans lead healthier lives."

RELATED: Show empathy to help obese patients, doctor says

The report provided a breakdown by states and found Colorado had the lowest adult obesity rate at 22.3% and West Virginia had the highest at 37.7%.

Among the report’s recommendations was the expansion of healthcare coverage and care, including continued Medicare and Medicaid coverage of the full range of obesity prevention, treatment and management services.

RELATED: To fight obesity, end physician fat-shaming, bias

While doctors need to encourage healthy eating habits, they have been cautioned about so-called fat-shaming of patients. Out of fear of being reprimanded for their weight issues or having their weight blamed for health issues, patients can choose to avoid doctor visits.

One nurse at a doctor’s office is helping take the dread out of getting on the scale, according to CafeMom. "This scale will only tell you the numerical value of your gravitational pull," a sign by the scale said, according to an Instagram post that shared the message. "It will not tell you how beautiful you are, how much your friends and family love you, or how amazing you are!"

Every doctor's office should follow this nurse's lead, according to the article.