We have often discussed obesity rates in the world on this blog and their causes. However, a new report makes an interesting finding. First, not too surprising, it says that Americans are fatter than we previously thought. Second, and more surprising, the reason for the underreporting is that people think or say that they are taller than they are. The study findings were presented by researcher Zachary Ward of the Harvard School of Public Health.
The new findings are based on the measurements of doctors as opposed to the measurements given by patients. So patients do not understate their weight nearly as much as they overstate their height.
Using the new methodology, researchers found that 49 states had an obesity rate of 30 percent or higher. Only Hawaii had an obesity rate under 30 percent, and a few states, including Louisiana and Mississippi, had obesity rates over 40 percent. Previously, it was thought that most states were below thirty percent.
The errors were due to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relying on telephone surveys that asked people their weights and heights. They then plugged those dubious figures into a calculation of body mass indexes (BMIs). This Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) reported that the overall obesity rate in the United States of 28 percent.
Another study called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), put the overall U.S. obesity rate is 34 percent. While NHANES used data from doctors, it did not allow for state-level obesity estimates.
The new study matched up the data from BRFFS and NHANES to better estimate actual rates among the states.
18 thoughts on “Study: We’re Fat And, By The Way, We’re Short Too”
Why did you post Spinelli’s baby picture?
That has to violate the civility rule or the Monroe Doctrine or something.
Fat people got no reason to live.
They got little bitty eyes, and little bitty feet.
Little bitty voices that go beep peep beep.
Don’t want no fat people.
Don’t want no fat people, round here.
–Randy Newman, Short People song with some changes.
Don’t I remember Randy getting into some trouble for that song?
The waist to height ratio is a better predictor of health than BMI:
Cue censorship perhaps. By a Berkeley-esque left wing nutjob
You can always tell a Harvard man. You just can’t tell him much.
I wonder how JT accessed trooperyork’s baby photo scrapbook. Is it online?
I have a metabolism disorder. I can eat nothing for days and gain weight. Kidding. But my Dr. Says all my tests are normal, echo cardio gram fine (painful), so not to worry. But I hear people talking about laws or making comments to people. We all aren’t Size 5 (which I was until I had some surgery in 1974). After that I have fought weight gain. There’s a drug coming out to increase metabolism and Dr. says might really help. Also, some groups from other countries are large people. To assume everyone with a weight problem is irresponsible is irresponsible.
Sandi – have you not listened to Michelle Obama? She is the goddess of nutrition. Have you been following the lovely tweets that students are sending her of their school lunches (designed by her).
Nick – the authentic food of Italy is unsurpassed, in my humble opinion. I don’t think I ever had a bad meal there. And the gelato!
Paul – true. If you only look at weight, then a person with a lot of muscle mass would be considered obese.
This has happened. Since muscle is heavier than fat, people who are well-muscled have I higher BMI than fat people. And if you have a larger breast size or if you wear your hair to your waist, all that will count against you.
You’re kidding. The researchers did not know that people over report their height?
That’s been going on since units of measurement were invented. High heels, in fact, used to be worn by men. And the King of France was the only person allowed to wear shoes with blood red heels, the precursor of Laboutin.
Of COURSE you can’t do a meaningful phone study using volunteered height and weight info.
I remember a friend of mine listed his height on his driver’s license as 6’0″ and when asked about it under oath he admitted he was 5’10” but he felt 6’0″.
I don’t know the specifics of the study but my guess is that healthy fit people go to a doctor much less (and if your healthy and under 40 perhaps not at all) than overweight people of any age. Was this accounted for?
The food in our grocery stores is a mix of garbage and good stuff. It is not hard to heat healthy from about any grocery store, just stick to the raw vegetable section, eat dairy (if you can) in moderation, and don’t choose the low fat stuff. Or you can go for the processed food aisles, fix an easy meal in 10 minutes and be hungry for more and gain weight, the choice is yours.
Italy has the lowest BMI in Europe. They eat right. A vacation there makes it all very clear. Processed and fat foods are killing us. Corporations are killing off their base. But, the poor are more obese than the rich and their reproductive rates are higher, so profits should remain for the near future. Not only is Wisconsin way up on BMI, we are big in the processed food industry. You’re welcome.
BMI is a fraud. There is no science behind it.
Really, the govt. thought people would tell their real height and weight over the phone. That is just silly. Well, I suppose it was close enough for govt. work. God forbid they actually measure people.
The next problem is what is actually considered obese. Doctors are looking at charts and not looking at people to decide. This is an issue that is coming up in UK schools where students are being sent home with notes saying they are obese, when they are not. They just don’t fit the chart.
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