The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released new statistics on obesity rates in each of the 50 states, and Alabama has ranked at number five. The study was done by polling state health departments.
Results of the study showed that staggering 33.5% of all adults living in Alabama aren’t just mildly overweight — they’re obese. The study was done by using body-mass indexes, which compare height and weight, and use a conversion factor to calculate a person’s weight versus the “healthy weight” for his or her height.
The top ten most obese states in America, according to the study, are as follows: Arkansas (35.9%), West Virginia (35.7%), Mississippi (35.5%), Louisiana (34.9%), Alabama (33.5%), Oklahoma (33%), Indiana (32.7%), Ohio (32.6%), North Dakota (32.2%), and South Carolina (32.1%).
Back in 1990, studies showed that just 11% of adults were overweight, and the results from this year’s study have doctors shaking their heads. Officials say the only way to change this trend is for adults to make major lifestyle changes.
“Look at our culture today. We’ve designed things to make it easier for us to do stuff,” said Kevin Ready of the Huntsville Hospital’s Wellness Center. “We sit at a desk 6-8 hours a day, and we don’t have to walk anywhere to do anything, so we don’t burn the amount of calories that our bodies were designed to use.”
Obesity is directly linked to a plethora of other health issues, including diabetes and hypertension. Alabama also ranks in the top five for those diseases. Regarding a change in trends, Ready says that the main changes that are needed are better diet and exercise, which are hard to start and stick to alone. And in the United States, as many as 80% of adults no longer meet guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
The city of Huntsville, AL, has created programs to promote healthy living as a town. “Healthy Huntsville” aims to provide free information and classes to those looking to make a lifestyle change. The programs can be beneficial to those who find it hard to stick to a diet and exercise plan, since they will connect with others on the same journey.
“Income is not an issue, instruction is not an issue, at these free events you’ll learn how to move more, how to eat better,” said Ready.
Classes provided by Healthy Huntsville include both fitness and nutrition classes, and many people have seen success as a result of the program.
“They’re changing their appearance, their health is better, their labs are better,” said Ready. “We’ve actually seen some dramatic success stories with that.”