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Rhode Island sees significant increase in obesity; weight loss surgery an answer for many

Obesity rates continue to rise in the United States, with Rhode Island ranked as one of six states that saw a significant increase in the adult obesity rate from 2016 to 2017. This news comes from the annual "State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America", which is published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and highlights the latest obesity trends as well as strategies, policies, programs, and practices that can reverse the epidemic.

“Obesity is a disease that is unfortunately becoming more common,” said Dr. Dieter Pohl, director of the Weight Loss Surgery program at Roger Williams Medical Center. “Surgery is often the best treatment for obesity and it is an underutilized tool."

The adult obesity rate in Rhode Island increased by more than 3 percentage points from 2016 to 2017, according to the report, and the state’s ranking during that time has gone from the 10th-lowest in the nation to near the middle of the pack — the 29th-highest. According to the report, Rhode Island’s adult obesity rate was 30.0 percent in 2017, up from 26.6 percent in 2016. In 2007, the foundation found that the adult obesity rate in Rhode Island was 21.4 percent, or sixth-lowest in the nation.

Additionally, the report found that Rhode Island has the fifth-highest obesity rate for children ages 10 to 17.

"Studies show that fewer than 1 percent of the 20 million people who are eligible for surgical weight loss in the United States actually get surgery," said Dr. Pohl. "A number of conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes are linked to obesity. Weight loss surgery is an option that can change the life of those who choose it.”

The Weight Loss Surgery team at Roger Williams, led by Dr. Pohl, has performed more than 3,000 weight loss surgeries and has been a MBSAQIP-Accredited Center since 2005. Dr. Pohl is pictured in the center above with members of his weight loss surgery team. To learn more about weight loss surgery at Roger Williams, visit www.loseweightri.com

To see the report, www.tfah.org/report-details/the-state-of-obesity-2018/