Better access to healthy foods and more opportunities to stay active in low-income communities are among the new policy recommendations issued Tuesday by leading health advocacy groups working to reverse the nation’s obesity epidemic.

After three decades of increases, adult obesity rates have leveled off in every state except for Arkansas, according to “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2013,” a report issued by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association, endorsed the report’s findings, saying local efforts are critical to reducing obesity rates.

“With strong community leadership and parents committed to raising healthy kids, we can see the trends in obesity reversed,” she said. “It takes a great amount of willpower to create a culture of health throughout each community, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently partnered on a program called Voices for Healthy Kids to improve the health of communities and reverse childhood obesity.

“We are nowhere near success, but it looks like we are finally stalling the rise in obesity rates,” said Brown. “Progress is possible. This report outlines several recommendations to move the needle in the right direction and we are focusing our efforts on those strategies that will impact children the most.”

Obesity is considered a major risk factor for stroke and heart diseases, the nation’s No. 4 and No. 1 killers, respectively.

The report found that 13 states now have adult obesity rates above 30 percent, 41 states have rates of at least 25 percent and every state is above 20 percent. In 1980, no state was above 15 percent; in 1991, no state was above 20 percent; in 2000, no state was above 25 percent; and, in 2007, only Mississippi was above 30 percent.

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