Wednesday, July 7, 2010

1 in 4 Idahoans is obese

Report ranks states by percentage of overweight adults

Express Staff Writer

Idaho didnít make the top 10 states in terms of the lowest percentage of obese people, but was 15th best. The majority of the healthiest states were in the West and New England, with the least healthiest being in the South. Express graphic

One in every four adults in Idaho are obese, which may seem alarming, but the state has a lower percentage of obese people than 35 other states.

Obesity is determined by using the body mass index—often called BMI—which uses weight and height to calculate if someone is at a healthy weight. Being obese is worse than being overweight.

The worst-off state is Mississippi, where one in three adults is obese, according to the "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2010" report put together by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation using government data. The report was released June 29.

About 19 percent of Colorado's adults are obese, the lowest percentage of any state. Colorado's score of 19 is the best now, but in 1991 no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent.

But how does Blaine County compare? The F as in Fat report only looks at states and doesn't delve into smaller areas. But another group has looked at the health of all counties in America.

Using this data, 16 percent of Blaine County's population is obese, the best score of any Idaho county and even better than Colorado's average.

Idaho's counties range from 16 percent to 32 percent of people being obese.

County statistics come from a report developed by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and released in March. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said the report is the first to rank the overall health of counties in all 50 states by using a standard formula. The institute has ranked Wisconsin's counties but until this year, never the counties of other states.

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The "F as in Fat" report addressed more than just the overall adult population. It also calculated racial groups' and children's obesity rates.

While one in four Caucasian Idahoans are obese, more than one in three blacks and a little fewer than one in three Hispanics are obese. Those figures are all for people 18 and older.

In terms of those ages 10-17, Idaho actually does better than 41 other states. About 12 percent of Idaho children are obese, far better than their parents.

Even though Colorado adults were the least obese, Colorado children are in the middle of the pack, ranking better than 28 other states.

Nevertheless, the Western states of Montana, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington continually place among the least obese in the nation. And southern states are the worst off.

Trevon Milliard:

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