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Little sign of improvement in U.S. obesity rates

New government data shows that in most states, the rate of adult obesity is not improving. But some experts say they see good news in the fact that for the most part obesity rates aren't getting worse.

Overall, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults -- 68.6 percent -- are either overweight or obese.

Results from an annual telephone survey conducted in all 50 states show obesity rates stayed about the same in 45 states last year. There were small increases in Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah.

The 2014 survey found that in 22 states, 30 percent or more of the population was obese. The states with the highest obesity rates were mostly in the South and Midwest. Southern states also had the highest rates of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Three states -- Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia -- had obesity rates over 35 percent.

The state with the lowest obesity rate was Colorado, at 21.3 percent.

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Credit: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health

By comparison, in 1980, no state had a rate above 15 percent, and in 1991, no state had a rate above 20, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America's Health, which analyzed the data released Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The groups' "State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America" report does find signs of progress in the fact that some communities have seen a decline in early childhood obesity. However, the overall childhood obesity rate remains at about 17 percent.

"Obesity puts some 78 million Americans at an increased risk for a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer," the report states. "Obesity is one of the biggest healthcare cost drivers -- adding up to billions of dollars in preventable spending each year."

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