According to a recent study, obesity prevalence in the United States it still alarmingly high, and poses a public health threat.
The findings were published in The State of Obesity report, a joint project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This annual survey’s mission is to raise awareness regarding how widespread obesity has become.
The report uses data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the largest telephone health survey in the world.
Experts calculate the body mass index (BMI) of the respondents, based on their height and weight, to determine the number of obese and overweight people at a national and state level. Adults with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are categorized as overweight, while those whose BMI surpasses 30 are classified as obese.
After analyzing the results of their study, researchers established that 22 American states have obesity rates of 30% or more, while 45 states are above 25%. In comparison, back in 1980, state-wide obesity rates were under the threshold of 15%.
It may be that the obesity epidemic is even larger than recent findings suggest however, given that many respondents tend to underestimate their weight and exaggerate their height.
Overall, the percentage of adult obese people is higher than 33% in 3 states: Mississippi, Arkansas and West Virginia. The 10 states where obesity has its greatest prevalence are all in the South and Midwest, while most of those with lower levels are in the Northeast or the West.
Experts have correlated these findings with the incidence of other health conditions, pointing out that type 2 diabetes and hypertension are also much more common in the South. A link was also determined between healthy lifestyles and normal BMIs: the states with the highest obesity rates have the largest percentage of people who don’t exercise.
The most affected state is Arkansas, where 36% of the population can be classified as obese, while the state with the least depressing results is Colorado, whose obesity rate is at 21%. Obesity incidence is 38% higher among black people, and 26% higher among Latinos, in comparison with white peple.
When it comes to childhood obesity, the worst rates are among Kentucky high school students (18%), while the lowest percentage is in Utah (6.4%). Overall, around 17% of children and approximately 34.9 % of adults in the U.S. are obese nowadays.
By and large, the number of obese people has remained relatively steady throughout the country. However, a higher incidence has been reported in Utah, Kansas, Ohio, Minnesota and New Mexico. In addition, it appears that black adult obesity has increased by 8% since 2002, while Latino adult obesity has also risen by 10%.
Aside from the health risks determined by this condition, obesity-related diseases cost the U.S. between $147 and $210 billion every year, as a result of medical assistance, job abstenteeism and diminished work productivity.
Given these findings, researchers warn that immediate measures should be taken, to reverse this epidemic and implement strategies to counter it at a national level. Otherwise, young people nowadays may become the first generation in U.S. history to live shorter and unhealthier lives than their predecessors.
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