Which region in the U.S. boasts the heaviest people?
According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the folks with the highest Body Mass Index (BMI) live in the South. The obesity rate among southern residents is 29.5 percent, reports USA Today. Following them were the Midwest with a rate of 29 percent, the Northeast (25.3 percent) and the West (24.3 percent).
When the CDC did a breakdown of which states had the worst obesity rates, eight of the top ten states were in the South, too. Mississippi came in at number one for the sixth year in a row, with a 34.9 percent obesity rate. The other states that made the list included Louisiana (33.4 percent), West Virginia (32.4 percent), Alabama (32 percent), Michigan (31.3 percent), Oklahoma (31.1 percent), Arkansas (30.9 percent), Indiana (30.8), South Carolina (30.8), Kentucky (30.4) and Texas (30.4 percent).
While Colorado had the thinnest Americans (20.7 percent were obese), sadly, not one state in the U.S. had an adult obesity rate lower than 20 percent.
This data matters to us for many reasons.
First, it’s not a secret that African-Americans bear the brunt of the obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22.4 percent of African-American children ages 6 to 17 are obese. In terms of adults, according to the Office of Minority Health, African-American women have the highest obesity rates in the country — a whopping 50 percent are obese. And 37 percent of Black men over the age of 20 are obese.
Second, the Midwest and the South, the areas with the highest obesity rates, are areas with larger Black populations. The Office of Minority Health states that the 10 states with the largest Black population in 2010 were New York, Florida, Texas, Georgia, California, North Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia and Ohio. And of the cities with more than 100,000 African-Americans, Detroit and Jackson, Mississippi, rank in the top two. Those two states ranked high in the obesity data the CDC released.
And while many factors, such as poverty, not having health insurance and lack of access to healthier foods, can be blamed for the higher rates of poor health among African-Americans, obesity plays a serious role as well. But there is some good news: Our weight is something we can control.
Being active for 30 minutes a day for 3-5 days a week along with strength training came make a huge difference in maintaining a healthy weight. Eating less fried, salty and fatty foods and eating more fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fiber can help as well. Most important, just losing 10 percent of your body weight can significantly lower your risk of developing diabetes, cancer, heart disease and hypertension.
To learn more about losing weight, go here.
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(Photo: Getty Images/moodboard RF)