Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mississippi Tops State Obesity Ranking

According to a new government survey, the South tips the scales again as the nation's fattest region.

Not less than 30 percent of adults in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are suffered obese. In fact, experts blame Southern eating habits, poverty and demographic groups that have higher obesity rates. In addition, Colorado was the least obese, with about 19 percent fitting that category in a random phone call survey done last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity is based on the body mass index, a calculation using height and weight. A 5-foot, 9-inch adult who weighs 203 pounds would have a BMI of 30 that considered the threshold for obesity.

Based on the 2007 findings, the results are similar with the three previous years; Mississippi has had the highest obesity rate every year since 2004. However, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia and Louisiana have also clustered near the top of the list. So close that the difference between their rates and Mississippi's may not be statistically significant.

According to Dr. Miriam Vos, assistant professor of pediatrics at Atlanta's Emory School of Medicine, who heads CDC's nutrition, physical activity and obesity division, although the CDC study only surveyed adults, but results for kids are similar. Moreover, most of the studies of obesity and children show the South has the highest rates as well.

The question is why the South so heavy? According to Vos, the traditional Southern diet, high in fat and fried food, may be part of the answer. The South also has a large concentration of black women and rural residents, two groups that tend to have higher obesity rates. Furthermore, the study found that about 36 percent of black survey participants were obese, while 28.5 percent of Hispanics and 24.5 percent of whites were.

According to Naa Oyo Kwate, assistant professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, perhaps, high poverty rates in the South probably are another factor. In fact, nowadays, poor people tend to be obese: the cheapest foods tend to be calorie-heavy, and stores offering healthier, and more expensive, food choices are not often found in poor neighborhoods.

Now, the question is why Colorado so thin? The answer is because of Colorado is a state with a reputation for exercise. Colorado has plentiful biking and hiking trails, and an elevation that causes the body to labor a bit more.

CDC officials believe that the phone call survey of 350,000 adults offers conservative estimates of obesity rates, because it is based on what respondents said about their height and weight. Men usually overstate their height and women often lowball their weight.

Well, it seems that the heavier we are, the more we underestimate our weight, probably because we do not weigh ourselves as often.

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