New data is available on the obesity epidemic that is plaguing the United States, and this time it is in the prettiest graphical form I have seen to date (or ugliest, when you consider the data it is displaying!). This graphic displays that in 2004 one out of four people in nine U.S. states are obese. We are not talking about people that have an extra few pounds, we are talking about very large people at risk for serious health problems. Obese is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more (about 30 pounds overweight for a 5’4 person). The associated article with the graphic is definitely worth a read as well.
I am not writing this to pick on these particular states, because most others are not far behind. Here are the nine states that are in the highest category: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. I have spent significant time in each of these states, and the results are not surprising to me. The built environment is not conducive to biking and walking throughout a large portion of these states. Sprawl has infested every last corner of the landscape in some places. And, fast food restaurants with drive-thrus and buffets are the norm. The eating habits are another part of our get-it-quick society. We spend a lot of time behind the wheels of our vehicles and have little time for healthy, home-cooked meals anymore. We want the most “bang for our buck” – and quick. This article could lead into a whole other discussion (or even a new blog) on healthy eating, nutrition, and physical activity.
To be fair, the BMI Calculator is probably a little harsh. Most people say that I am too skinny (which I am not), and even I come in near the top of their “normal” BMI zone. To calculate your own BMI, visit this site.