Even Our Fittest State Is Still Pretty Fat

According to a new study on your ballooning bottom, Colorado, America’s fittest state, has more adult obesity now (19.1%) than Mississipi, America’s fattest state (33.8%), did in 1991 (15.7%).

F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010 [Trust for America's Health]

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  1. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    http://www.thisiswhyyourefat.com .

    Half the stuff on there should be illegal. But then you’d get anti-government lunatics bitching that the government is telling them what they can and can’t eat… which would be true, however, if people won’t show appropriate restraint voluntarily….

    • chaesar says:

      diabetes is going to bankrupt this country

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        I blame restaurants for being incapable of providing me a meal that doesn’t have 3x my daily sodium intake. If I can cook healthy at home, a restaurant can cook at least moderately healthy.

    • leprechaunshawn says:

      From what I see our fattest state is Mississippi at 33% of adults being obese. That means that even in our fattest state, 66% of the people are showing what you call “appropriate restraint voluntarily”. We certainly do not need the Government coming in and making choices for us, especially when most people are already making healthy choices.

      • johnva says:

        A lot more are overweight. Obesity is reserved for BMI over 30, but BMI over 25 is overweight.

        • LadyTL says:

          And the BMI is as good a judge of health as looking in the mirror is at telling if you have cancer.

          • johnva says:

            It’s a perfectly reasonable measure of obesity when you’re talking about the aggregate obesity level of the population, and you’re just trying to compare whether the population has gotten fatter or not. It’s considerably less reliable when it comes to judging individual obesity or health, and really shouldn’t be used that way. It’s a public health statistic, nothing more.

            • LadyTL says:

              It isn’t even able to tell that since it has never been updated beyond when it was first created. It does not take into account any kind of population changes such as that we are taller more now on average.

              • johnva says:

                It’s still useful in this context. The fact that it’s not a perfect measure does not negate that. All I’m saying is that it’s appropriate to use it for this sort of purpose. It’s easy to measure, and there are good records going back on it. And many of those differences will even out over a whole population of people.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        Well over half of American adults are overweight or obese. Not being obese doesn’t mean you’re not fat.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      I LOVE the government telling me what I can put in my own body!
      I can’t wait until they take it further and force me into mandatory exercise camps! And also outlaw sugar!

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        Oh, and I also can’t wait until they ban cars! Some people speed and cause accidents and even death! We must get rid of anything that could cause problems.

        • Polish Engineer says:

          You don’t mind the government regulating how much lead is in your food do you? Because you know, too much lead in your diet is toxic and will kill you. Well too much sodium in your diet is toxic and will kill you, but now it’s a whole different story when the ingredient in question is tasty.

          • dolemite says:

            Too much water can also kill you. Along with too much anything. I’d die pretty fast if all I ate 3x a day was carrots. Vitamin A toxicity would build up pretty fast.

          • lockdog says:

            Well, I agree with your point, but on a technical note, lead actually does have a sweet taste, so in theory it is “pretty tasty.”

    • aloria says:

      I have prepared and enjoyed several things on that page. I have a BMI of 19.5 and a body fat percentage of 19% (on the low side for a female.) My blood pressure and cholesterol levels are fantastic.

      This is because, not being a dumb ass, I know the concept of moderation and realize you can’t pig out on fattening shit all the time. If we should be making anything illegal, it should be not having any common sense.

    • ARP says:

      Actually, most of this is fine. You know what you’re getting when you eat it. It’s more restaurants and fast food putting 5X more sodium and fat into something than you thought.

    • dolemite says:

      If they won’t show it voluntarily, they will die at an early age. The problem solves itself. Uncle same doesn’t need to be able to tell me what to eat, drink, what to watch on tv, read, in addition to taking 30% of my money.

    • DeepCrow says:

      I’m one of the “no government regulation” type folk also arguing that if your want death by cheeseburger, obesity related medical costs should be excluded from coverage by health plans. Same thing goes for booze and cigarettes (although the later’s negative externalities are pretty well covered by existing taxes).

      • johnva says:

        The only result of that would be a lot of obese people with no money, and who would then end up on Medicaid and other public assistance and be everyone’s problem (a lot of them already do, and it’s contributing to a lot of the problems with our healthcare system’s spiraling costs). Furthermore, the stick approach at some hypothetical point in the future doesn’t really do a good job of deterring people from the behavior that makes them obese in the first place, because humans naturally discount future costs associated with their behavior (which is why so many smokers can rationalize not quitting).

        I think the best approach we can take is just to make healthier living be the “path of least resistance”. That doesn’t mean that we have to outlaw unhealthy food, sedentary lifestyles, etc, but we need to make it a lot more work to get fat.

        • LadyTL says:

          Why don’t we start by actually encouraging people to walk places instead of this whole “you have to drive if it is more than a block” attitude? Or bike places or use the bus?

          • johnva says:

            I’m 110% a supporter of that idea. But encouraging people to walk or ride bikes is not exactly easy when so much of our culture is now based on sitting around, being lazy, and cars. Adults would need a huge push in order to get them going in that direction, so I would suggest an initial focus on children (who naturally like running around outside, if they aren’t conditioned to do otherwise).

            A more politically unpalatable idea to get people walking and biking more would be a huge increase in the gas tax (I’m talking several extra dollars per gallon). That would definitely work, and could also do a lot to help us achieve energy independence and balance the budget. But many, many people would scream and whine in the period before they adapted to it, precisely because it would force them to change their lifestyle. Americans don’t want any solutions to anything that involve them actually doing anything differently, so I’m pessimistic that anything serious will be done to undermine the overwhelming car culture. At least Obama is greatly increasing bike and pedestrian improvements funding from its previously pathetically low level, so that’s something.

            • woahmelly says:

              Until they have accessible and reliable public transportation, especially in a place like south Florida where even in the winter it’s eighty degrees plus 100% humidity, I will continue to drive everywhere.

              Fix the lack of public transportation and I will gladly give up my car.

              • johnva says:

                Public transportation isn’t everything. It’s a great way to get people away from cars, especially over longer distances. But public transportation really needs to be coupled with an increase in biking, walking, etc to really work, because it’s not feasible to have public transit go right to where everyone needs to go except in the most densely developed cities. Intermodal transportation (such as biking + public transit) is a definite car replacement possibility, though.

                Also, there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. People won’t just magically switch over their lifestyle to using public transit just because it exists, and because they don’t see the need, the public transit will never be built if things stay as they are now. People complain about it losing money if we build it before giving people a reason to use it in large numbers. On the other hand, if we enacted a heavy gas tax, I guarantee that you would just suddenly create a lot of demand for car alternatives and all kinds of creative innovations would pop up. Just funding public transit and leaving everything else as it is now wouldn’t change much, and runs the risk of creating a solution that people don’t need.

              • jurisenpai says:

                It’s 97° outside right now with a heat index of 104° and I still managed to ride 5 miles to work on my bike.

                I did the same thing when I lived in Japan, as did everyone there. Yes, we all complained about the heat and carried water and towels everywhere, but we still managed to get around without cars.

                Most Americans are just afraid to sweat.

                • leprechaunshawn says:

                  Not only that but I worked hard to be able to afford a classy reliable car. I studied in high school and went to college so that I could get ahead in life. Riding a bike or public transportation would, in my mind, be a step backwards.

                  • johnva says:

                    OK, if you consider it a “step backwards” to be healthier, more fit, more energized, and less stressed out than most people commuting by car.

                    Connecting bike commuting (or public transit) to economic class is silly. There are plenty of good reasons to do it that aren’t just that you’re too poor to afford a car. I ride a bike to do errands and such all the time even though I can afford and own a car, because I like to do it for a wide variety of other reasons.

  2. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    And people don’t believe me when I say there are more obese people in the world than malnourished, so I still have to deal with the “but there are starving people everywhere!!!”.

    • satoru says:

      I’d have to disagree with you there. America’s population is 300 million. Assuming we even take highest estimate 33.8%, that would be 100 million obese people in America on the high end.

      According to the World Food Program over 1 billion people in the world are undernourished.

      http://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats

      Though I can’t seem to understand how they come up with 1 billion do not have enough to eat, then somehow come up with 900 million hungry people in developing countries? Obviously there are a lot of number fudging going on there, or using different criteria.

      I do think, that in developed countries at least, we might reach a point where the ratio of obese to malnourished/hungry people will skew higher to obese. But from a world perspective, there’s a long way to go before that happens.

    • evnmorlo says:

      While excess is a problem, obesity is also caused by malnourishment.

    • Zannen says:

      There ARE starving people everywhere. The US is not the world, or even a close facsimile.

      Don’t take my word for it, though – the World Bank has free data from most countries available from 1960 onward, for everything from nutrition to national accounts: http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog

      This is by and large* the same data you’d find if you went to each country’s statistical agency, but provided free of charge and in an easily accessible/comparable format.

      *The exceptions include data sets collected exclusively by international agencies.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        According to Scientific American magazine “More people in the developing world are now overweight than hungry”: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-world-is-fat

        • Conformist138 says:

          Fat isn’t some miracle substance automatically containing needed vitamins, minerals, etc. Malnourishment is the real issue, not what the scales say. Saying, “Hey, no one is going hungry if they’re fat” ignores the problem of the poorest people being the fattest due to cheap foods that are high in empty calories, but low in real nutrition. They might not die as quickly as a person with no food at all, but it’s not much of a step up in the long run as it catches up eventually. Stuffing starving people with crappy fillers is a band-aid on the ragged stump of a severed limb. All we’re doing is putting off a real solution and letting shit get worse.

      • Pandrogas says:

        Funny how they can gather the statistics but damn if they’ll do anything about them.

        That’s the trick to feeding the world, we have the food, but social, economic, and political factors along with logistics complicate the issue so much that it never happens.

  3. temporaryscars says:

    Good news for the zombie community!

  4. pot_roast says:

    It’s more of a cultural issue.

    “# Adult obesity rates for Blacks topped 40 percent in nine states, 35 percent in 34 states, and 30 percent in 43 states and D.C.
    # Rates of adult obesity for Latinos were above 35 percent in two states (North Dakota and Tennessee) and at 30 percent and above in 19 states.
    # No state had rates of adult obesity above 35 percent for Whites. Only one state-West Virginia-had an adult obesity rate for Whites greater than 30 percent.
    # The number of states where adult obesity rates exceed 30 percent doubled in the past year, from four to eight –Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. ” – all states with a rising Hispanic population.

    Rising numbers of Latinos, and along with it we have a rising obesity rate. Yet when people think “obese” they post images of a fat white woman eating a cheeseburger when the figures show that it really isn’t that way.

    It’s a huge cultural issue and not just a diet issue.

    • FatLynn says:

      I thought part of the FLOTUS’s plan was to discuss this, and then she got immediately shot down as a racist.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I don’t know whether she was aiming for Black people and Hispanics, but it’s not racist to suggest that AIDS prevention should be emphasized in the Black community, so I’m not sure why it would be racist to suggest that obesity should be addressed even more so in the Black community.

        • satoru says:

          Food is cultural, so it’s no surprise that obesity could correlate with specific ethnic groups, or correlate regionally across ethnic groups. For example, your typical southern ‘soul food’ for African Americans has its roots in providing high fat high caloric food. This was great when they were working in the plantations for 16 hours a day. Today, not so much.

          • Limewater says:

            For what it’s worth, in the rural south, white people eat the same way.

            • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

              You are exactly right. Being a naturally thin person from Alabama, I was often made fun of for not having “meat on my bones”. It was never healthy people saying this, only morbidly obese ones.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I think it has more to do with poverty and generally low-income populations, rather than a cultural issue. If you had an influx of another ethnicity or race, and they were also of a similar socio-economic status, would you still have obesity? I think so. The fact that Cheetos are cheap doesn’t mean that only certain people buy them – any person of any race or ethnicity can be poor, and can be poorly educated about good food choices.

      • Limewater says:

        I think you’re overplaying economics and underplaying apathy and lack of education. Now, I only have anecdotes to support this– not data, but when I’ve been in the checkout line at the grocery story behind obese people on government assistance programs, they aren’t buying the cheapest stuff. Heck, they’re usually buying name brands rather than store brands. My grocery bill is always substantially lower and the goods I’m buying are always substantially healthier. However, that comes at the price of me actually caring about what I’m eating and choosing foods that are both healthy and easy on the wallet. Of course, there is a correlation between economics and education, but that gets into a much deeper argument.

        • annexw says:

          I have read in other threads regard government assistance for food that the program restricts to certain brands, most of them name brand, as well as what can be purchased.

          That might account for what you are seeing.

    • Polish Engineer says:

      Cultural may be the wrong word there. More of a demographic thing.

      I’d venture a guess that minorities and immigrants earn less which leads them to purchase cheaper processed food normally laden with fat, sodium, and other goodies.

      There is a phenomenon developing now know as the food deserts, where fresh fruits, veggies, meats, and other unprocessed foods are almost unavailable, making it very difficult for people of limited means to eat healthy.

    • ARP says:

      You keep saying cultural, but mention race. I would just call it like it is. It’s probably a combination of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Poor people have less access to fresh foods, often don’t have the education to understand how diet would impact their health, or can’t afford fresh foods. Often “ethnic” and a lot of traditional American foods are now bad for us because they assume people perform manual labor all day, walk everywhere, etc.

    • danmac says:

      You touch on two valid issues: culture and race. Anyone with half a brain knows that the poor are more likely to eat fatty foods that result in higher obesity rates, and that minorities tend to be poorer, and therefore minorities are more likely to be obese.

      There’s another side to this issue that is tied to genetics, however. Specifically, minority groups such as Hispanics, Native Americans (especially desert-swelling tribes), and blacks all genetically come from regions where there is little sustenance compared to northern Europe. Consequently, their genes are primed to make them digest food as efficiently as possible (if they hadn’t, their ancestors would have starved). While this is great in a hunter/gatherer society, it’s terrible in a world where frozen dinners and fast food are prevalent.

      This has resulted in mad-crazy health statistics for certain groups…there is one Native American tribe in Arizona, for example, that has a diabetes rate of about 50 percent for individuals between the ages of 30 and 64.

      In contrast, many whites’ ancestors lived in northern Europe, where the cold winters forced individuals to maintain high-calorie diets in order to generate enough body heat to survive. Consequently, whites today have digestive systems that are primed for calorie burning.

      These are, of course, generalizations – there are tribes in Africa where everyone is tall and skinny, and yes, there are white people all over the U.S. who are overweight. My point was to point out that there are both cultural/socioeconomic and genetic components to the issue of obesity among whites and minority groups

  5. NarcolepticGirl says:

    I’m just glad I moved to a “fatter” state. I was living in a “thin” state.
    I feel much better about myself now.

    I don’t mean to sound rude, but it’s true.

    • jurisenpai says:

      No, it’s true. I (curvy and athletic) and a girlfriend (stick thin) went to a showing of Eclipse last week.

      We were the thinnest people in the theater BY FAR. And I have never been considered thin. Ever. I turned to my friend and asked, “Did we walk in to a Stephanie Myer convention by accident? Because I see about 100 look-alikes right now.”

      I walked out of there feeling pretty great about myself!

    • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

      I hated being small in Alabama as a child. The ridicule was terribly, and even as an adult I still can’t stand it. I’m the abnormal one, so all the larger folks make comments allll the time. But I’m glad ya’ll are loving the boost!

    • Snaptastic says:

      I would have to agree. It’s hard to explain, but there is a definite difference. I moved to Colorado and visit my parents in Mississippi from time to time. The thing I notice every time I visit is the massive increase in obese people and shopping carts left in the parking lots. Shopping carts left in the middle of a parking lot piss me off–especially when the cart corral is 10 frakin’ feet away.

      The South in general has no idea what a trans fat is and the very few health food stores in the area only sell vitamins and a few hygiene supplies because they can’t move most food products–much less ones that have to move quickly.

      I could go on for ages about the difference between CO and MS, but the gist is that after a few days at home, I am practically clawing at my car to try and expedite my escape from Mississippi. (I love my parents dearly, but why they chose it as a place to retire still irks me)

  6. Dallas_shopper says:

    I live in a very fat state (Texas) and was formerly obese and am now slim and fit. It’s hard not to see myself as one of those extremely fat people anymore but I know that I’m not…because everyone around here keeps telling me I’m “too skinny.” I think my fellow Texans are just so fat that they have no idea what a normal body is supposed to look like.

    • TJ says:

      That’s incredibly ridiculous that anybody would call you “too skinny” (unless your BMI is under 17, you’re NOT “too skinny”). I can only imagine that it’s a cultural thing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard somebody who wasn’t obviously anorexic being called that.

      Then again, I live in Colorado, and hang out with a group of friends who don’t bat an eye at the thought of a 10 mile hike, and teased me relentlessly the last time I showed up someplace with a McDonalds cup in hand.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        I was definitely “too skinny” as a teenager and the MEPS doctors agreed; they had to round up on my weight to get me through the Army physical.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        At 5’6″ and usually weighing in in the low 120s, no, I’m not underweight. People are just…crazy I think. Or maybe they’re not used to seeing me so thin and the contrast is startling. Who knows. But I get told I’m “too skinny” sometimes by people who just met me. But they’re always fat themselves. Skinny people never tell me I look too skinny.

        I’ve even been called “bony” to my face at the office by an obese coworker. I’m still pissed off about that; why is it OK for her to call me “bony” but I can’t call her “fat”? Not that I would, but it’s the fact that I couldn’t get away with it that I find annoying.

        • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

          I know exactly what you mean! This two overweight women at my last office would always comment on my food and eating habits. Once I threw out my lunch and walked out, and another string of comments ended with my screaming, “I am a person, too! Just because I don’t look like you doesn’t mean I am not real!”

          Which sounds almost as crazy, but I wasn’t an overweight person commenting on a healthy person’s habits. THAT’S CRAZY.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I think a lot of people feel insecure, and project their insecurity onto others.

    • absurdist says:

      I’ve lived in Texas and know exactly what you’re talking about. They tell you you’re too skinny because it’s easier for them to fatten you up so they’re not reminded every day of their own larded asses than it is for them to actually put the fork down.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Good for you! I have been told a few times that I was too skinny…I’m not. I admit I could lose a few pounds, but it’s also a cultural issue. My parents’ generation and going even further back, being plump was a sign of wealth. Luckily, my parents thought that was crazy.

    • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

      First of all, serious kudos to getting your life in control and deciding on health for yourself! My favorite stories of perseverance are those who became healthy.

      I’m right there with you on the comments on size. I’ve been small my whole life and even as an adult, little incenses me more than people telling me I’M the unhealthy one for not looking like them. I feel like I’m the only sane person in a really crazy fantasy land, and until I’m fat no one will leave me alone.

  7. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    It’s amazing how much things have changed in just the past 20 or 30 years. Looking at old family photos, it’s remarkable how skinny everyone (myself included) looked. Compared to today, we all looked downright emaciated in the 70′s & 80′s.

    Ironically, there was even less awareness back then regarding a healthy diet. We had horrible diets but we just ate less overall and definitely had less processed food and soda.

    When Stand By Me came out in 1986, I can remember thinking how ridiculously fat Jerry O’Connell looked. Twenty five years later, he looks like a fairly typical Jr. High-aged kid.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      I seem to remember the 1970s as the golden age of candy, and we were more likely to have a box of Cap’n Crunch or Lucky Charms in the house than today. The thing is, we went outside more. A lot more. That’s what happens in an environment devoid of video games, cable TV, and the Internet.

      We rode our bikes all day. We played touch football. We shot hoops. All that stuff you have to force kids to do now, we did. We also blew our allowances on candy, ate sugar-filled kids’ cereal made by companies that weren’t afraid to use the word “sugar” in the name, right on the box in big letters, and watched cartoons every Saturday morning where we were bombarded with commercials for all kinds of crap that wasn’t good for us, and most of us weren’t fat because we went outside and stayed there, mostly unsupervised, until the sun went down.

      • johnva says:

        I think a large part of the problem is indeed the media-driven paranoia that a lot of parents have about letting their kids just roam around and be kids outside by themselves. For the most part, your kids will be fine if you let them go play outside, but I’m encountering more and more people who are terrified to let their kid be outside alone for even 5 minutes. And furthermore, the age at which kids are assumed to be able to do things on their own is continually increasing. When I was 8, I was riding my bike several miles away from home by myself, going to the pool and swimming without my parents, and taking unaccompanied plane trips that involved changing planes in a hub city. And that was only 20 years ago. Now, most parents, it seems, wouldn’t dream of allowing their kid to do any of those things. There’s something sick in our culture that has made way too many people fearful little flowers about nearly everything, and it’s having a wide variety of negative consequences including childhood obesity.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          I do agree but things are different now. When I was a kid, we spent a lot of time “in the woods” shooting BB guns (and .22′s), building tree houses, playing war, bike riding, etc. When I visit where I grew up, all of those areas have long since been paved over for developments and shopping centers.

          I recently took my son fishing where I used to fish (and swim) as a kid, only to discover it littered with hypodermic needles, condoms, and smashed bottles. It wasn’t like that 20 or 30 years ago. When I was a kid, there also weren’t burned out buildings, junkies roaming around, gangs or drive by shootings. I think many parents overreact by trying to isolate their kids to the world but many communities aren’t the same as they were a few decades ago.

          • johnva says:

            Kids need to experience some risk and danger in order to grow up as balanced adults with a measured perception of risk. They need to be allowed to do things like skin their knees and get hit in the head with baseballs so that they learn not to do stupid things and also that little risks aren’t such a big deal.

            I don’t disagree that some places have probably gone downhill in the last 20 years. That happens; places change. But crime has actually fallen, so a lot of the increased problems are more imaginary than real. The world has always been a somewhat dangerous place, but it’s not really any more dangerous now than it was in the past. In fact, in many ways, it’s much safer. I think that weirdly, when things get safer people look further into paranoia in order to come up with things to worry about.

        • suedehead4 says:

          +1. Sure, driving your kids everywhere might save them from the extremely slight possibility of being abducted while walking along the street, but by creating unfit, overweight kids you’re setting them up for a whole lot of serious health problems and quite probably an early death.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        I completely agree. There was really no such thing as a healthy cereal back then, as they actually flaunted sugar content. There also wasn’t “real” juice either, it was all either powdered mixes or those big cans of Hawaiian Punch or Five Alive. We also had a lot of red meat, potatoes, and canned vegetable for dinner.

        I think a lot of it does have to do with activity. If you’re a kid outside playing, you’re burning calories, while avoiding the temptation to snack non-stop. If you ride your bike two miles to go buy a Hershey’s bar, you’re still coming out ahead vs. playing video games, while drinking Coke and eating potato chips and candy bars. If you played sports, you’d drink water and not Gatorade.

    • cooleyeharmony says:

      I totally agree….when I look at video or photos from the early 80′s and 70′s….no one was fat (well, except that one Aunt). But man…looking at my uncles and their friends all in old photos….everyone was skinny! Amazing how all that happens! I am from Colorado, and when I travel it is amazing to see how everyone has a huge gut. The sad fact is I am in shape and according the online tools, I am 19 pounds over weight! But feel great and bike and hike all the time!

    • FigNinja says:

      Yep. And one of the things this stat isn’t showing is just how many of the obese are morbidly obese. Of the 15.7% that was obese in 1991, I bet most of them were fairly close to BMI 30. Back then you rarely saw someone who was morbidly obese. I don’t think I’ve been in a Target at all in the last decade where I didn’t see at least a couple folks so large they had trouble moving. When I was a kid, that was so rare.

  8. AngryK9 says:

    I thought we were still trying to blame the recession, oil spill, Obama’s presidency, and all the rest of the world’s problems on smokers. I didn’t know we were already working on blaming it all on overweight people now.

    • TJ says:

      All those people who quit smoking are gaining weight now, since they don’t have smokes to kill the food urges.

      Don’t worry, we’re still blaming it all on the same people.

  9. Smashville says:

    This kind of flies in the face of the “2/3 of Americans are obese” stat, though…if only 34% of Mississippi is fat.

    Also, does this mean Mississippi is the fattest place on earth?

    • Polish Engineer says:

      Not sure where you got the 2/3 of Americans are obese stat, but I’m going to guess it probably meant overweight.

    • Noah says:

      2/3 of people are fat
      1/3 of people are morbidly obese

      Sad. Now I’m really a minority. Male, white, and fit.

      • Smashville says:

        How can 1/3 of Americans be morbidly obese if only one state has residents that are 1/3 normal obese?

    • pandroid says:

      1/3 are obese (BMI over 30), 1/3 are overweight (BMI between 25-30), and 1/3 are normal or underweight (BMI under 25).

      That’s how you hear 2/3rd of Americans are overweight/fat and 1/3 are obese.

      • pandroid says:

        I’d also like to point out that since most of these studies use BMI as the sole indicator of being overweight or obese, the actual “fatness” percentage in the US is probably lower than 65%. This is because BMI just does not work for tall people or athletes. My guess is that the US is probably closer to 50% fat, but without a better way to measure, there’s no way to be sure.

        • johnva says:

          Actually, this is the one perfectly legitimate use for BMI: population statistics. The thresholds for being overweight or obese are really only valid in aggregate statistics, not an individual, as you correctly point out. But when you’re studying the whole of the population BMI is a perfectly reasonable way to go.

  10. frank64 says:

    Well, when the topic comes up in regards to the health care costs of obesity, we are told by many here that it is largely due to thyroid or metabolism issues. I don’t know what all of a sudden happened to our thyroids, but we should fix em.

    • FigNinja says:

      I’ve read that 10-20% of the population in the US now has an underactive thyroid. These are mostly women over the age of 35. Most don’t know about it. It’s a simple test so I encourage people to have it checked out if they fit the symptoms.

      So I’m sure many of the overweight and obese people in the country do fall into this category but even if every single hypothyroid person were obese, it wouldn’t explain them all. Plus while it is much, much harder to maintain your weight with this disease (I know from experience) it is not impossible.

      • DingoAndTheBaby says:

        The more I hear that, the more I think it’s a load of BS. It’s becoming the fat-people version of “well, I don’t discipline my child at all and (s)he is unruly and won’t listen to authority figures…my little angel must have ADD” argument. While I certainly feel that there are SOME (a tiny minority) people with legit medical issues causing weight problems, it’s become a Red Herring allowing people to place blame squarely on anyone OTHER then themselves.

    • khooray says:

      Probably the same thing that happened with kids that makes everyone call their kid ADD and give them meds to make them easier to deal with.

  11. madanthony says:

    Evidently, Maryland is home of a bunch of fairly average white and African-Americans, and a bunch of skinny Latinos.

    I have no idea why.

  12. SabreDC says:

    One thing that the article does not mention that may skew the results is whether or not the criteria for considering someone “obese” has changed since 1991. If the criteria became more strict due to any type of regulations, then the percentage of people who meet the criteria would increase.

    • TJ says:

      Something else that’s changed since then: HFCS replacing cane sugar. It was the mid-70′s when the US started slapping down the sugar tariffs, but not until 1984 that Pepsi and Coke switched from sugar over to HFCS. And everybody else followed.

      Give the people a decade or two of drinking the stuff, and you’ve got increasing obesity numbers. It could also be because everybody stopped getting the wonderful exercise known as “disco dancing” around the same time. We’ll never truly know for sure, unless we bring back disco and cane sugar.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        I think soda definitely plays a role. People today drink obscene amounts of the stuff.

        It wasn’t all that long ago that a small soda from 2010 would have been considered a large and there were no free refills. Glasses were small and if you wanted more than one, you’d get a pitcher. Cans, as well as bottles have also ballooned in size. I can’t comment on HFCS vs. sugar (beet or cane) but I can’t believe that consuming 1,000+ calories of sugar water is good for anyone.

        • NewsMuncher says:

          Yes. And if you want to avoid added sugar in any form, fat chance.

          Americans have a gigantic sweet tooth.

          I had a friend with hereditary diabetes, and said if you search out foods with low/no sugar, you get a lot more fiber, which made her uncomfortable due to the change in her bowels.

          Plus, people are constantly hearing about how this and that are bad for you:

          canned goods, due to leakage of BPA;
          spinach because of salmonella;
          tuna due to mercury;
          there’s fat in granola;
          there’s trans fats lurking everywhere;
          aspartame is evil ;
          so is pasteurizing milk;
          oh yeah, that horrible stuff MSG? anything with “Flavors and Flavorings/ Seasonings/ Natural Flavors and Flavorings” probably has it in it — so good luck with that
          eating a cow contributes to climate change and eating iceberg lettuce to drought;

          no wonder people just give up and eat what they 1) like 2) can afford 3) trust to be consistent 4) what their kids cry for 5) what they can find 6) freezes/stores well 7) tastes as good or better than they can buy for $1-5 at a restaurant 8) the family can agree on 9) can be used to make a variety of dishes with the fewest ingredients

      • Outrun1986 says:

        Its true that soda is probably one of the issues, especially the switch to HFCS soda that is so common today. I have noticed that most of the kids and teens will not drink anything but diet these days, however there is still a large segment of the population drinking regular soda and kids drink it too if the parents give it to them.

        I was not able to experience disco but as far as I know there aren’t really any “dance” clubs left around here unless you count just standing there and swaying in a drunken stupor. Most clubs here are far too dangerous to go to for the people that care, which means people are getting less “fun” exercise.

        Another problem that leads into this is America does its best to try and make exercise seem like work, which means people won’t want to do it. We also close state parks, charge parking at them when it was previously free and expect people who work all day and have kids to raise to go to the gym 1 hour a day and pay for the gym membership to do that.

    • Brontide says:

      Calories are calories and we eat more than we burn, it’s not advanced rocket science.

  13. crazydave333 says:

    I live in Colorado. If this is the fittest state, then the rest of you must be some muthafukkin’ whales. Hell, maybe I should move. I’d be the skinny one for a change if I moved to Texas. Problem though, I’d have to deal with more fat chicks. Fuq that.

  14. madanthony says:

    The thing about being overweight/obese is that it’s made up of two components – what you eat and how much you exercise. There’s nothing wrong with downing 4000 calories if you burn 4000 calories in a day.

    I eat quite a bit, but I also exercise quite a bit, and so my weight is within the normal range for my height. Part of the reason I spend time at the gym is so I can occasionally indulge in some stupidly excessive meals. So yes, I have a problem with banning foods that are perfectly fine as an occasional treat within a reasonable diet and exercise routine.

    • madanthony says:

      damn it, this was meant to be a reply to this post

    • dolemite says:

      Yeah, that’s how I play it when I am on the ball exercising. “This snickers would be good…but…290 calories…ah well, I’ll just do an extra 25 min on the treadmill.”

    • Brontide says:

      Yep it’s not the calories that will make you fat, it’s the systematic caloric imbalance. Also weight alone has little bearing on how “fit” or “healthy” one is.

  15. Tallanvor says:

    Yes, but does this take into account the fact that the definition of obesity was changed around 1997? They lowered the BMI at which people were considered obese (even though the research showed that they probably should have raised it), so right away a bunch of people were moved from the overweight category to the obese category.

    • voivod says:

      Here you go http://edition.cnn.com/HEALTH/9806/17/weight.guidelines/

      That is the problem with comparing numbers between 1991 and now. It’s apples and oranges, but people wanting to sensationalize it don’t seem to care.

      I personally think the bmi is a joke because it does not take into account muscle at all. According to the bmi I’m obese, even though my body fat is about 12% (below average). The problem is insurance companies are now using the BMI as a means of health even though it really isn’t all that accurate on that. % body fat would be a better measurement I would think.

      • johnva says:

        It’s fine to compare numbers as long you go back to the old raw data and renormalize it for the new obesity thresholds. Believe it or not, most health policy experts are not so stupid that they don’t know to do that.

        BMI IS NOT a joke when it comes to this type of comparison. It’s true that it’s not necessarily valid for any given individual, and it shouldn’t be used to make a determination about how obese one particular person is. However, it’s fairly reasonable to use it to study the change in obesity over time in the population as a whole, because those individual differences will generally “average out”. And it’s irrefutable fact that Americans have become much fatter over the last 20 years. It’s really not just some fake phenomenon invented by people with an agenda: it’s a real problem.

    • johnva says:

      They changed the thresholds, but this comparison that’s been circulating uses the same threshold for both 1991 and now. So no, people really are much fatter now than they were in 1991.

  16. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    God, this angers me. I feel sad for every overweight/obese kid I see, and i want to beat their parents. It’s just a cycle of ignorance. I hope that these campaigns and regulations take off, because then no one can claim they didn’t know eating TV dinners every night was bad for them. Or that not exercising was bad for them.
    I saw an 83 lb. 4-yr-old on Dr. Oz the other day. That will cost you your parental rights in some states. The parents said they “felt bad” but didn’t know what else to do. Dr. Oz had to TELL THEM that she needed exercise, lots of it, and fresh food.
    Kids are helpless. They don’t pick their food, their parents do it for them. So these kids get soda and candy and processed food from age 2 and then people are shocked when they won’t eat a vegetable in it’s whole state. It’s cause they’ve never seen one!
    Ahhhh! Rant over. Wake up, America. You’re killing yourselves AND your children.

  17. johnva says:

    People need to stop intentionally or unintentionally conflating corporate regulation with regulation of individual behavior (there are a lot of people doing that on this comment thread). We can regulate all kinds of things that corporations do without infringing on individual rights. For example, we can regulate the nutritional and ingredient content of fast food without doing anything to take away adult’s “right” to be unhealthy. Because they are a business, they are legitimately subject to the authority of government regulators. So I think there is a lot that can be done to make healthy living an easier path for people, simply by applying science-based regulations to businesses. No one is proposing that you be thrown in jail for eating too much fat or whatever (although I do think it’s legitimate for you to get an educational visit from a social worker if your kid gets mega-obese at a really young age, as that’s purely the fault of the parents).

    • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

      110% agree with you on every point you made, especially parents being visited by social services for trying to kill their kids with food.

      • johnva says:

        I don’t even suggest it as a particularly confrontational thing, as I doubt that an aggressively authoritarian approach will be very effective and could provoke a backlash. I think that a lot of parents of obese children are just ignorant about how to avoid it and address it, and could benefit from some interventional education. People *need to be told* that they can’t feed their kid fast food every day, and let him play video games for 8 hours every afternoon, without him getting fat. They also need to be informed about what the consequences for their child’s future health will be if they choose not to do anything about it (and yes, I know that obesity is not the same thing as health, but there are health problems correlated with it). It needs to be handled with a delicate touch, but clearly just leaving parents to their own devices isn’t working.

        • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

          I definitely agree that it is a simple cycle of ignorance. Living in South, I heard it daily. People just aren’t getting it. I am not for a knee-jerk reaction of government everything, but something HAS GOT to be done.

          • johnva says:

            It doesn’t help that this “cycle of ignorance” is one that is directly fed and initiated by a lot of corporate advertising propaganda. Adults and children are constantly bombarded with advertising for unhealthy food, and the unhealthy food sellers wouldn’t be doing that if it didn’t work. Most other developed countries have more regulation of how advertisers can market certain things to children, and we used to in this country. It’s probably time that we revisit that, as well (I’m constantly astounded that so many people around me don’t just completely tune out advertising like I do, but apparently it has a big influence on people).

            • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

              We’re also a lot more sedentary than ever before, as well. As several commenters have stated, we went outside every day it was possible. We didn’t sit in front of a computer for hours everyday or play video games. In the summer, it was customary to stay outside all day long.

              It’s cycles of cycles. Advertisement, laziness, ignorance.

  18. johnva says:

    It’s kind of amazing that there was such an increase in obese and overweight Americans just in the last 20 years (and I don’t think it’s just a statistical artifact, as I’ve definitely noticed it during my lifetime). When I was a kid (which was only in the 80′s, there were only a few obese children in a typical elementary school class. Now there is a disturbing percentage of obese children around. Anyone who ever ventures out in public can see this, and it really should be seen as a national emergency. It’s all well and good to talk about how government regulation is “tyranny” or whatever, but something has changed just in the very recent past in this country. Surely America wasn’t based on tyranny prior to 1991? So what negative trends have developed in the recent past, and how can we reverse them (particularly in children)?

    My guesses: further increase in sedentary lifestyle/dominance of cars, especially when it comes to kids; more families that never cook meals at home and eat restaurant (especially fast food restaurant) food for every meal; more sugar and fat in processed foods than ever before, contributing more empty calories that we don’t need; and possibly restaurant portion sizes decreasing (go spend some time in Japan if you want to see how out of whack American portion sizes are).

  19. HogwartsProfessor says:

    1. Large portion sizes in restaurants. I saw a magazine article once that compared a normal-sized portion in the 1950s to one today and the 1950s one was like a kid’s meal.

    2. Too much processed food, which is empty calories with no nutrition, and it’s MUCH cheaper than healthy food. Therefore poor people can’t afford it. I’m talking about working poor, NOT on welfare. The healthy food should be more affordable. How we’re going to do that, I don’t know.

    3. Get off yer butts and get outside and play! Adults as well as kids. I know the siren song of the computer; I’m on the thing all day, either writing, working or playing on the Intertubes. Hell, I would have taken my laptop into gallbladder surgery with me if I could have. The first thing I did when I got home from the hospital was log into my chat room! I got fatter from sitting on my ass, and I got no one to blame but meself. (Although having a thyroid condition DOES make it harder to lose, I’ve lost some just from getting up and around more.)

    • johnva says:

      Yep, as I mentioned the portion sizes in Japan (for example) are far smaller than here, and food is more expensive in general. That’s got to be a huge portion of the problem, combined with the fact that many Americans have shifted an unreasonable portion of their diet away from home-cooked meals and into restaurant fare. The goal of most restaurant food is not to be healthy, but to taste good enough that people will come back. So the fast food restaurants have whole teams working on engineering food to be almost addictive by appealing to our primitive sensibilities (such as our love of fat and sugar).

      As for the processed food prices: we could easily address that to a degree by reconfiguring agriculture subsidies to be more reasonable. Take away subsidies for corn and create large subsidies for fresh vegetables, and it might change a bit.

  20. webweazel says:

    Ah, yes. Mississippi. Lovely place. Always LAST on “Best Of…” lists, and always FIRST on the “Worst Of…” lists.
    Add to it liquor laws reminiscent of the 1800s. On county/city you can’t have liquor in your own home, and are ticketed and your liquor confiscated while DRIVING THROUGH said county, and another county/city where you can literally drink & drive. Don’t go over the limit, but enjoy that cold one on the drive from your doublewide to WalMart. Stop by the daiquiri place on the way and pick up a gallon at the drive thru for the trip to the huntin’ grounds! I guess it’s hard to lose weight when you drink a 12-pack a day.
    *sigh…….

  21. deepeyes says:

    Evil_Otto is correct, there has been a change in the *criteria* for ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’. Although this change doesn’t account for all of the increase in overweight and obese people in the population, it’s still a significant factor. Basically, it’s not comparing apples and oranges, but it is comparing Red Delicious to Macintoshes – not truly valid numbers.

    http://edition.cnn.com/HEALTH/9806/17/weight.guidelines/

  22. DerekSmalls says:

    Do you really think the population changed so drastically in such a short period of time? No. They changed the “obese” criteria and lowered weight standards. Look it up. We’re not really that much fatter.

    • johnva says:

      Actually, that’s wrong.

      They did change the criteria by changing the BMI threshold that was considered “obese”. But, the data behind this report does NOT use different criteria in 1991 vs. now. They use the same threshold: 30 BMI counts as obese. They are NOT making an unfair or invalid comparison. Obesity rates really have increased a huge amount in just 20 years. Frankly, I don’t know how anyone who has been alive for that period could deny that. There are definitely a LOT more mega-obese people around now than there were then.

    • johnva says:

      And: if you don’t believe me, go and read the actual report: http://www.rwjf.org/pr/product.jsp?id=65469. They have a whole section on methodology that you can read, if you’re not convinced. I don’t know where all you people who have repeated this same “criticism” are getting this nonsense from. They actually do know what they’re talking about.

  23. smo0 says:

    I seem to get in trouble when I make comments regarding this issue… but no, America doesn’t suffer from eating problems just “glandular” ones – it’s not anyone’s fault that a good chunk of our nation is obese…..

    I love articles like these – they back up everything I say!

  24. nerble says:

    I’m almost obese by the standards in the doctors office. I’m also 5’4″ and a size 4. So clearly I’m in desperate need of a diet.