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News: Health of the Nation: Skinniest State?

August 21, 2012

The news is constantly focusing on THE HEAVIEST STATES IN AMERICA, FATTEST STATES and AMERICA’S HEALTHIEST AND UNHEALTHIEST STATES, but Yahoo! presented us with a new twist recently: SKINNIEST STATE IN THE U.S.!
Now, just to recap, Mississippi has consistently been ranked the “heaviest” or “fattest” state for years, with Alabama, West Virginia (Go Mountaineers!), Tennessee, and Louisiana fighting it out in the top 5. Vermont is purportedly the healthiest state in the country, and (shocker) Mississippi the least healthy state. But this year, a new honor goes to a very special state. The award of SKINNIEST STATE goes to…

COLORADO!!!!

Gorgeousness

Now, while I truly believe that Colorado is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been (and I still have a lot more of it to see!!), I think this article is kind of absurd. Let’s read the intro of it, shall we?

The title of skinniest state in America still goes to Colorado, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2011, Colorado’s obesity rate was 20.7 percent — the lowest in the nation.

Between 2005 and 2009, Colorado remained the sole state with an obesity rate below 20 percent. Now, no state falls into that category, the CDC says.

In 2011, 39 states had obesity rates of over 25 percent, and 12 had obesity rates over 30 percent. The highest obesity rate was in Mississippi, in which 34.9 percent of the population is obese.

Huh. So, here’s what I don’t get: just because a state has the least number of obese people also means it has the most number of skinny people? What about people of a normal weight? Or people who are overweight but not obese? Just because there is only (and I’ll get to that in a hot second) a 20% obesity rate does not mean that the other 80% of the population is “skinny.” What does that word even mean really? It’s completely subjective and ridiculous.

Now, let’s think about that number “20%.” ONLY 20.7% of the population is obese. So, obese is defined as “an excess proportion of total body fat. A person is considered obese when his or her weight is 20% or more above normal weight. The most common measure of obesity is the body mass index or BMI. A person is considered overweight if his or her BMI is between 25 and 29.9; a person is considered obese if his or her BMI is over 30.” Of course, there’s lots of problems with the BMI index, but I’m not going to get into that right now. Colorado has a population of 5,116,796 people. Mississipi has a population of 2,978,512. Now, I’m not particularly good with math, but if 20.7% of Colorado is obese, that’s 1,059,176.7719999999 people that are obese. And if 34.9% of Mississippi is obese, that’s 1,039,500.688 people that are obese. Notice which number is higher? Colorado. Colorado has more obese people than Mississippi.

I understand that percentage-wise, it is shocking to think that almost a third of a population could be obese (like Mississippi) and it’s shocking to think that even 20% of a population being obese is considered the lowest. But, I think what’s almost more shocking are the actual numbers. And that the media so clearly twists the way that we think about facts by presenting them in a certain way. We must be aware and educate ourselves and, as individuals, work to build a healthier and better life.

(Image courtesy of Colorado Mountain Man, sheer beauty)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2012 11:52 am

    The out-of-context stats and alarmist headlines are just there to get people to click on the article and cater to our average sixth-grade reading ability. The indisputable fact is that overweight and obese adults and children are prevalent nationwide and no study needs to be done to confirm this; a simple walk through any shopping mall or downtown area or a trip to a concert or sporting event in any city or town, on either coat or anywhere in the middle, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, will suffice. As for people actually caring about it more than they care about “Buy two large pizzas, get one free order of cinnamon sticks with frosting dip!” (take out only, not valid on delivery) at their local Domino’s….don’t hold your breath.

  2. Charlotte permalink
    August 27, 2012 2:58 am

    I can’t stand these kind of stats, mostly because whether or not they are “true” is beside the point. They either make people feel bad or feel superior, depending on which group they end up in. (Other of us just end up feeling terrified). It’s a lose/lose:(

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