“But we do know it’s much harder to influence adult behavior changes,” she said. “We know trying to reach individuals one by one on an adult level is not where the success will be. The success will be by changing the environment.”
That means working with communities to establish walking and bike trails and improving access to healthier food. That means encouraging more farmers markets and even working with smaller stores, where processed food often reigns, to encourage them to stock more fresh produce.
Murphy is optimistic.
“I think we all have to be optimistic and move in that direction,” she said. “Control and reduction of obesity is one of the biggest things we can do.”
Sue Olson, a registered dietician and program director at Derry Medical Center, agrees.
“Seven of 10 Americans are overweight,” she said. “We all have to practice and learn behaviors and skills.”
She works in the medical center’s nutrition and diabetes center, with an emphasis on medically supervised weight loss.
“It always boils down to behavior and environment,” she said. “Kids are overweight, but you can’t treat the kid without treating the adult. You have to be around other people on board with what you want to do.”
No gender divide in obesity rates
Overweight individuals have plenty of company, according to the report.
Men are packing on the pounds faster than women, and have been over the past decade. That has resulted in gender equalization when it comes to obesity — equal percentages of men and women now weigh too much.
While adult obesity levels may be stabilizing — only Arkansas saw in increase from 2011 to 2012 — extreme obesity is on the rise, the report finds. Adults with a body mass index of 40 or higher is now at 6.3 percent of the population. A person with a BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight, according to the CDC.