Mississippi is the fattest state in America, with two in five adults obese or morbidly obese, a report revealed Tuesday amid growing health warnings for the country.
Telephone surveys of more than 400,000 people nationwide showed Magnolia State had the highest obesity rates, followed by West Virginia and neighboring Alabama.
At the other end of the scale, people in Colorado, Massachusetts and Hawaii were the least likely to be obese, with less than a quarter of adults falling into this category.
Experts have blamed poor diets, reduced access to public spaces for exercise, and low health insurance coverage in some areas for the obesity crisis, particularly in Mississippi.
The figures come from a report by NiceRx – an online pharmacy – and are based on figures collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the year 2020.
America is the fattest country in the Western world, with about 40% of people, or 138 million, obese. It is followed by New Zealand (30%), Canada (29.4%) and Australia (29%).
President Joe Biden will unveil his plans to tackle obesity in September and has already set targets for improving physical activity and reducing diet-related diseases – like type 2 diabetes – at the national scale.
The map above shows the proportion of obese people by state. The highest obesity rates were in Mississippi, West Virginia, and Alabama, while the lowest rates were in Colorado and Massachusetts. This is a report from drug supplier NiceRx, and based on figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
TOP TEN STATES FOR LEVELS OF OBESITY
2. West Virginia
Data published by NiceRx, taken from CDC report.
THE TEN LOWER STATES FOR LEVELS OF OBESITY
5. New York
6. New Jersey
Data published by NiceRx, taken from CDC report.
NiceRx’s report used figures from surveys conducted by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which monitors health trends nationwide.
It relies on individuals self-declaring whether they are overweight or obese, suggesting the figures may be an understatement of the true state of the crisis at a national level.
The report’s authors suggested that states with the highest obesity rates were “not looking out for the physical and mental well-being” of their residents.
Morbidly obese women are 40% more likely to injure their legs if they fall
Morbidly obese women are at increased risk of fracturing or breaking their leg bones if they trip and fall, according to a major study presented at an obesity conference this month.
Scientists from the Quebec Research Center in Canada found that women with the most severe cases of obesity were about 40% more likely to damage a leg bone than those of healthy height.
Dr Anne-Frederique Turcotte, an epidemiologist who led the study, suggested this could be because taller women had more “difficulty stabilizing themselves”, leaving them at greater risk of falling. She added that fat also releases a compound that weakens bones
The same pattern was not seen in the men who took part in the study, with those who were underweight facing a twice as high risk of fracturing their arms – the highest of any group.
The scientists did not say why this was the case, although it may have been due to the design of the study. Previous research has suggested that obese men are also more likely to break bones than those who are at a healthy weight.
Mississippi had the highest obesity rates nationally, but the report’s authors also found that in 20 states, more than a third of adults were obese.
These include: West Virginia (39.7%), Alabama (39.1), Louisiana (38.1), Indiana (36.8), Kentucky (36.6), Delaware (36.5), Iowa (36.5), Arkansas (36.4), Oklahoma (36.4), South Carolina (36.2), Texas (35.8) , Tennessee (35.6), Ohio (35.5), Kansas (35.3), Michigan (35.2), Georgia (34.3), Missouri (34), Nebraska (34), North Carolina ( 33.6).
On the other hand, only Colorado (24.2), Massachusetts (24.4) and Hawaii (24.5) had less than a quarter of their population marked as obese.
For comparison, it is estimated that around 13% of adults worldwide are obese.
Doctors say obesity is triggered by eating more calories than you burn in a day, usually from fatty and sugary foods. It is becoming a bigger problem in modern life due to more sedentary lifestyles.
They say obese people are at risk for everyday health problems, including shortness of breath, feeling tired, joint and back pain, low self-esteem and feelings of isolation.
It can also lead to more serious health issues, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, reduced fertility, and heart disease.
British doctors say obese people tend to live about three to ten years less than people who are at a healthy weight.
Dr. Kathy Knight, a dietician and associate professor at the University of Mississippi, has previously said her state may have such high obesity rates because it’s “very rural.”
“It doesn’t allow for a lot of public exercise places. There aren’t many sidewalks and most Southerners are still skeptical of bike lanes,” she said in a statement.
Knight added that the state also has food deserts — entire areas where there are few stores selling fresh food, but lots of processed, high-carb items.
Earlier this month, the White House announced it would host a hunger, nutrition and health conference in September for the first time in 50 years.
The statement said it would aim to find ways to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, and reduce diet-related disease across the country. The current administration aims to end it by 2030.
Susan Rice, domestic policy adviser and former Secretary of State, said: ‘Hunger, diet-related disease and the disparities around them impact millions of Americans and the Covid pandemic has put highlight the urgency of solving these problems.
“No one should have to wonder where their next meal will come from.
“We must take bold steps now — with government, the private sector, nonprofits and communities working together — to build a healthier future for every American.”
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