Amer­i­cans spread­ing out – at the waist­line


Amer­i­cans are spread­ing out, but in the wrong di­rec­tion — at the waist line.

At least 20 per­cent of adults are obese in ev­ery state, ac­cord­ing to data from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC).

In four states — Alabama, Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi and West Vir­ginia — more than 35 per­cent of sur­veyed adults were obese, the CDC re­ported on Sept 1 in maps that show the preva­lence of obe­sity among states.

In four other states — Min­nesota, Mon­tana, New York and Ohio — obe­sity fig­ures de­creased be­tween 2014 and 2015. It is the first time in 10 years that any states have seen a de­cline in obe­sity rates, the CDC said, how­ever, the num­ber of obese adults went up in Kansas and Ken­tucky.

The South had the high­est preva­lence of obe­sity, 31.2 per­cent, fol­lowed by the Mid­west, 30.7 per­cent, the North­east, 26.4 per­cent, and the West, 25.2 per­cent.

The US had the great­est num­ber of obese peo­ple in the world, but in 2014 China re­placed it. Ac­cord­ing to a study in the April is­sue of the Lancet, China is home to 43,200,000 obese men and 46,400,000 obese women, ac­count­ing for 16.3 per­cent and 12.4 per­cent of obese men and women around the world.

Pamela Bryant, a health com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist at the CDC, told Mash­able that the goal of the agency’s maps is to “em­power” in­di­vid­u­als and pol­i­cy­mak­ers to take steps to pre­vent obe­sity, such as im­prov­ing ac­cess to health­ier, fresher foods.

Peo­ple who are obese, com­pared to those with a nor­mal or healthy weight, are at in­creased risk for many se­ri­ous dis­eases and health con­di­tions, in­clud­ing: high blood pres­sure, heart dis­ease, stroke, type 2 di­a­betes and cer­tain types of can­cer, ac­cord­ing to the CDC. The es­ti­mated an­nual heath care costs of obe­sity-re­lated ill­nesses in the US is $190.2 bil­lion or nearly 21 per­cent of an­nual med­i­cal spend­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Jour­nal of Health Eco­nomics.

The At­lanta-based agency based the maps on data col­lected in hun­dreds of thou­sands of tele­phone in­ter­views with adults from 2013 to 2015, ask­ing peo­ple their height and weight to cal­cu­late their body mass in­dex (BMI). BMI is a per­son’s weight in kilo­grams di­vided by the square of his height in me­ters. The CDC de­fines obe­sity as hav­ing a BMI of 30 or higher.

BMI is crit­i­cized by some doc­tors and re­searchers who say that a per­son considered over­weight or obese might be per­fectly healthy be­cause BMI can’t dis­tin­guish be­tween fat and mus­cle, and that even thin adults may still have un­healthy lev­els of fat that don’t reg­is­ter on the scale.

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