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Obesity – Statistics Underestimated more Americans are Overweight and Obese

May 1st, 2006

Obesity – Statistics Underestimated more Americans are Overweight and Obese

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Obesity has been on the rise for both adults and children in the United States.  Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) believes that the currents statistics are too low and the more people are obese than previously thought.  The reason these researchers believe that the data is incorrect is because of the telephone surveys used to collect the information.  Telephone survey data showed that people may have underestimated their weight and height.  The report will be printed in the May issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

The data collected for the national and state level of obesity comes from two different sources.  The first source is from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and the other is the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The BRFSS uses telephone surveys to collect data and is used in both the state and national levels for obtaining obesity statistics.  The other source, NHANES, used in-person interviews that measure the height and weight of those who participated in a clinical exam.

The lead author, Majid Ezzati, who is the Associate Professor of International Health at HSPH, and along with his colleagues compared the data from the telephone interview and the in-person surveys.


The researchers discovered that women and men report differently their weights and heights when interviewed on the telephone.  Women tend to report a weight that is less than her actual when surveyed on the telephone.  Men tended to answer the weight question on the telephone with an accurate number.  Men that are ranging in age to young to middle age had a tendency to say they were taller than there actual height.  Women reported accurate height measurements.

Recalculating the data to adjust for the telephone data, the researchers estimate that the actual national obesity statistics for 2002 should be 28.7% for adult men and 34.5% for adult women.  This is corrected more than 50% higher than the previous calculations.


The states that faced with the largest obesity problem are the Southern states.  Based on the corrected researcher’s statistics for the year of 2000 the highest obesity levels for men are as follows:


Highest Rates with Obesity in Men
Texas 31%
Mississippi 30%

Highest Rates of Obesity in Women
Texas 37%
Louisiana 37%
Mississippi 37%
District of Columbia 37%
Alabama 37%
South Carolina 36%

Lowest Rates of Obesity in Men
Colorado 18%
District of Columbia 21%
Montana 21%

Lowest Rates of Obesity in Women
Colorado 24%
Montana 25%
Massachusetts 27%

By correcting the data, the researchers discovered that the Southern states have the highest rates of obesity in the US.

"The results show that there are clear geographical patterns of obesity," said Ezzati. "Using this data, national and state public health institutions can better target resources and programs toward combating the growing epidemic."

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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:48 PM