Hawkeye State fattest in Midwest

The Hawkeye State is known for rich soil, friendly people and . . . obesity?

That’s not a label we seek, but recent reports indicate Iowa needs to take its weight problem seriously. Iowa is the fattest state in the Midwest, and the fourth-most obese state in the nation, according to the Trust for America’s Health.

Obesity is when an adult has a body mass index of 30 or greater. The national average is 31 percent of people weigh too much. In Iowa, it’s 38 percent. Iowa ranks seventh nationally.

Access to healthy food and safe, affordable places to exercise are cited as concerns. Obesity is on the rise in America and experts are labeling it an epidemic that is tied to Type 2 diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer.

That is disturbing news but it doesn’t mean it can’t change. It’s not just overeating that creates obesity. People who don’t exercise, eat foods that may be tasty but are rich in calories as well as genetics and metabolism all are factors.

There is a grave cost in all that gravy. In addition to health problems, a reduced and less-enjoyable life and early deaths, this weighty issue also hits us hard in the pocketbook. According to Wallethub.org, America spent $200 billion — yes, bake it with a B — on health-care costs in 2018. We spent another $72 billion on diets and weight-loss programs.

This simple advice still is the best: Eat less, move more. The Physical Activity Council reports that 82.1 million Americans 6 years and older are completely inactive. They need to take that first step — and many more — to drop pounds, restore their health and improve their lives.

It’s tough to face this as the holidays approach with huge meals and tasty treats all part of them. Add a game of football in the backyard, a walk, a swim or some other exercise to your plans, and push away from the table when you’re full.

That could be the best present you give to yourself and your loved ones. It’s an idea worth weighing in your mind.