Who Is Affected By Obesity

Who is affected by obesity? According to government statistics, obesity affects about a third of the US population. People who are obese have elevated health risks that can be controlled with dedicated efforts to lose weight, including healthier food choices, regular exercise and obesity support groups.

Obesity Defined
A person is considered obese when their body mass index (BMI) is 30 or greater. BMI is calculated using weight and height and it is calculated for both children and adults. Childhood and adolescent obesity is calculated differently, using statistical averages based on a child's age, sex and height.

Obesity is a contributing factor in many chronic diseases. Those that are obese run the risk of heart and liver disease, certain types of cancer, Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes.

Who Suffers from Obesity?
Obesity is found in both children and adults. Obesity was once considered a rising problem only for adults, but recent studies have shown that childhood obesity is also growing, affecting about 15% of all US children.

Obesity also affects those from all races and income levels. The general rate of obesity for low-income children is 14.6%, but it varies from state to state. Only 10% of low-income children in Colorado and Hawaii are obese. Colorado also has a low incidence of obesity in its general population, with only 18% of residents being obese.

Mississippi has the highest rate of obesity, at 32% of the population. Other states with high obesity rates are West Virginia, at 31%; South Carolina, at 30%; North Carolina, at 29%, and Michigan and Texas, both at 28%.

Obesity levels for American Indians and Alaska Natives are increasing. Obesity among children in these ethnic groups showed a rise of about a half percentage point each year from 2003 to 2008. For 2008, obesity was highest among American Indians and Alaska Natives, with 21.2 % being obese. Hispanics were second, with an obesity rate of 18.5%. Whites came in third, with 12.6%. Asian or Pacific Islander had an obesity rate of 12.3 %. Blacks had the lowest obesity rate, at 11.8%.

The South and Midwest experience a higher obesity rate for both blacks and whites compared with the West and Northeast. The obesity rate for Hispanics in the northeast is lower than that for Hispanics in the Midwest, South or West.

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