The CDC determines obesity based on Body Mass Index (BMI), which is calculated using a person’s height and weight. For most people, this also correlates to their amount of body fat. An adult with a BMI of 30 and above is considered obese and an adult with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
The CDC shows that 13 states have a population of at least 30% of obese adults, up from 12 states two years ago. Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
The rest of the country isn’t faring much better with 41 states having at least 25% obesity and all 50 above 20%.
Nebraska’s adult obese population is at 28.6%.
These numbers are in stark contrast to 30 years ago when no state was above 15% obesity and 20 years ago when no state was above 20%. Even just six years ago, only Mississippi was above 30%.
Surprisingly, there is a positive in the statistics. With the exception of Arkansas, every state is holding steady in their obese populations. While obesity isn’t going down, it isn’t increasing considerably either.
We probably don’t have to reiterate the health repercussions of obesity and overweight. (If you are looking for a refresher, the CDC provides one here.) Let’s instead focus on what we can do to decrease the prevalence of obesity and overweight.
Firstly, we can create a culture of change, something is already being promoted by initiatives such as First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move! initiative and Nebraska’s state initiatives.
As communities, we can support these initiatives and push for sidewalks and walking paths, and maintain clean park to promote activity. And as families and individuals, we can promote physical activity and healthier eating choices, like more fruits and vegetables and fewer soft drinks, sugary foods, and fatty foods.
By working together, we can decrease obesity.