A Bit of Statistics on Obesity in the US
The obesity rate among individuals who lack a high school diploma stands at 32.9%. Those who attained it without proceeding with their education have the obesity rate of 29.5%. Finally, this rate stands at 20.8% among college graduates. These figures show that the frequency of this medical condition decreases with an increase in the level of education within a certain demographic. Does that mean that a low level of education is a risk factor when it comes to obesity?
No, it does not mean that. Instead, these figures are an indication of the importance of learning as much about this disease as possible. Remember that it affects more than 72.5 million people in the United States. However, examining these official figures is also important.
Notable flaws in the official statistics released by the CDC
In 2009, the CDC released its results on obesity in the US. In that survey, the obesity rate in the country stood at 26.7%. In 2008, another estimate from the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey had revealed that the rate stood at 33.9%. The discrepancy between these two figures is notable. Could it be that the rate of obesity decreased by 7.2% in just one year? That would be a decrease of more than 22 million obese people over this period.
Surprisingly (or not), the reason for this difference is the fact that people have a tendency to lie about their height. Such lies affect the calculation of Body Mass Index (BMI), the primary means of determining whether a person is obese. In other words, people score a lower BMI than they ought to because of exaggerating their heights. In this case, NHANES measured their participants’ height while the CDC allowed their respondents to state their height. That means their actual rate of obesity is probably higher than the one reported by the CDC.
How big is the problem of obesity in the US?
Well, it is a huge problem. In fact, the US has the highest rate of obesity worldwide. Approximately, one out of three Americans is either seriously overweight or obese. Annually, this medical condition costs more than $147 billion. Moreover, the average health care cost for an obese person is $1419 higher than the one spent by an individual with a normal weight. Interestingly, the rate of obesity is highest among the Southern States and those in the Midwest. They include Mississippi, Tennessee, and Louisiana among others.
States with the lowest rates are mostly on the West Coast and Northeast. They include Colorado, Hawaii, and Montana. Currently, the CDC recognizes that different policies, environments, and behaviors contribute to these discrepancies in obesity levels among states. However, this institution maintains that obesity is an inherently complex problem and as such, determining the precise factors causing these discrepancies is not yet possible.