Obesity Rates

The 2014 obesity rate statistics in the USA have just been released, and the news is not good.

Data released via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System show that nearly half of all states have a morbid obesity rate of 30% or more.   Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or greater.

In addition, not one state had an obesity rate of less than 20%.  

The CDC collected this data based on self-reported height and weight in telephone interview surveys, not from actual physician office visits where height and weight are measured.  What is worrisome is that most of us probably under-report how much we weigh, likely making these data a gross underestimate of the true prevalence of obesity.  

Hawaii’s overall obesity prevalence was calculated to be 22.1.   This is also likely an underestimate due to our large Asian and Pacific Island population, for which lower BMIs carry higher cardiometabolic risk.  BMI does not tell the whole story in our unique racial and ethnic mix here on Oahu. 

Bottom line:  we have a long way to go in fighting the obesity epidemic.  And it’s well past time to stop blaming patients by telling them to simply “eat less and exercise more” to fix this.  We also must abandon the science of the 70s and 80s advocating low-fat (aka high carb and sugar) diets, which are feeding this escalating problem.


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