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Aug 30, 2006 02:15 PM

Latest Obesity Stats (-- LA Times)

- 29.5% of Mississippi residents were obese.
- Nine of the 10 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South.
- From 2004 to 2005, the percentage of obese people increased in 31 states and stayed constant in the rest. No state showed a decline.
- "Obesity now exceeds 25% in 13 states, which should sound some serious alarm bells."
- The states with the highest rates of obesity are also those with the highest rates of hypertension and diabetes, which are typically associated with fat.
- At least 27% of healthcare costs in the United States are a result of obesity and lack of physical activity.

Then the kicker: This info was collected through phone interviews, with women generally understating their weight and men overstating their height. "As a result, the data probably underestimate the true extent of obesity."

Shocking and sad.

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  1. I question the numbers. I just did a quick check on the obesity % for NY, NJ, and Connecticut. All were 23.2%. That's too much of a coincidence.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bob Martinez

      Hmm. This was what showed up on the interactive map :
      New York: 21.7% obesity, 57.9% overweight & obese
      New Jersey: 21.4% obesity, 58.7% overweight & obese
      Connecticut: 19.6% obesity, 56.4% overweight & obese

    2. "This info was collected through phone interviews, with women generally understating their weight and men overstating their height"

      Umm, if the info was collected by phone, how do they know that anything was reported accurately or inaccurately?

      I cannot say for sure about women reporting their weight, but I am a fifty year old man and certainly have never lied about my height. Why would you? especially to someone on the phone?

      4 Replies
      1. re: FrankJBN

        Research methodology is explained on page 10 of the 76 page report that is attached in the link.
        Feel free to punch holes in it after you've gone through it. Would love to hear your statistical analysis, if you have some additional insight to share.

        1. re: Pupster

          Here are some teling statistics:

          "A 2002 study from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality determinedthat obese individuals age 55 and older have higher annual medical care expenses than normal-weight and overweight individuals ($7,235 for obese, $5,478 for overweight, and $5,390 for normal-weight persons)."

          So, on average, being "overweight" increases costs by 1.6%, which would seem to verge on statistically insignificant.

          Being obese increases costs by 34%, more than 20 times as much.

        2. re: FrankJBN

          Are you a decent height? Shorter men often seem to half-believe they are a couple of inches taller than they are. I mean I know I'm 5"6, and I dated guys who were clearly my height or shorter who would say they were 5"8.
          Also, my Dad used to be 5"8 or so and now appears to be my height or shorter. The shrinkage happened in his mid to late 50s. I know he's aware of it from physicals but I can see how on a survey he might still say he is the height he was for 40 years.

          1. re: julesrules

            " I mean I know I'm 5"6, and I dated guys who were clearly my height or shorter who would say they were 5"8."

            Not to suggest that anything about your statement is inaccurate, but assessing height is a very tricky thing to do and the mind plays tricks. I'm 5'2" when I stand up VERY straight and my husband is 6'3" tall. When I'm with him I most specifically DO NOT have the sense that I'm shorter than he is. I have a very profound sense that I can look him in the eye at a level gaze even though my brain tells me this is, clearly, nutz! Still, the SENSE I have is of being on the same plane and I always find it amusing to pass a window and see how different the reflection is than my perception.

        3. Last night I watched a documentary that had new and old footage of a school marching band in New Orleans. In the present footage, it looked like 75 percent of the kids were seriously overweight. In the vintage film (looked like the '70s) they seemed of average weight.

          1. Women often (not always) understate their weight; just check their driver's license (mine included!).

            I'm far from obese, but after getting married last year, both DH & I have put on 20#. We eat more and more often. My meals pre-marriage were dinner dates, salads @ home (sometimes just a bag of popcorn), or even one beer. Not very chowish @ home, but was definitely chowish when I went out.

            1. How do they define "obesity"?

              5 Replies
                1. re: cheryl_h

                  A "size 10" woman can be at 30% body fat.

                  1. re: Funwithfood

                    BMI has nothing to do with body fat. The Body Mass Index is the weight in kg divided by the square of the height in meters, of [weight(kg)/ht(m)**2}. I can't format the square, but I'm using ** to indicate an exponent.

                    If you use pounds and inches, it's the [weight(lbs)/ht(in)**2]X 703. The 703 factor converts from metric to imperial units.

                    The BMI is used to classify weights as normal (18.5 - 24.9), overweight (15 - 29.9) and obese (30 and above).

                    The failing of the BMI is when body fat is low since lean muscle mass can heavy but not indicate obesity.

                    1. re: cheryl_h

                      I think the health benefits of obesity are well established. Outside of professional athletes, few people with a BMI of 30 or higher are trim and muscular.

                      The "overweight" category is the dubious one. I think a lot of fit people in that BMI range are perfectly healthy.

                      My "normal" range is 140 to 189 pounds.

                      My lowest adult weight was 145. I looked like a concentration camp survivor. Women at parties would try to force me to eat cake.

                      189 might be possible if I followed a strict diet forever. I'd probably have to cut back on weight training.

                      1. re: cheryl_h

                        Big oops. I just realized I typed in a BMI for "overweight" as 15 - 29.9, it should be 25 - 29.9.

                        I think the numbers are just a guide, much like cholesterol counts or blood sugar levels. Most physicians take into consideration the whole picture before telling a patient they need to lose weight.