Saturday, July 24, 2010

We Missourians are fatter than most Americans

By David Burton
University Extension

The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have released their 2010 report on obesity in America. Missouri is one of 38 states that has an adult obesity rate above 25 percent.

Missouri is ranked number 12 for obesity with 29.3 percent of adults being classified as obese. To be classified as obese a person must have a BMI or body mass index of 30 or higher.

BMI is a calculation based on a person’s height and weight. It is generally considered a reliable indicator of body fatness in people. It is used for population assessments of overweight and obesity because it only requires height and weight.

To find out your BMI, you can go to To get an idea of what would be classified as overweight and obesity a person would be classified as overweight if they had a BMI of 25-29. A person is considered obese if they have a BMI of 30 or more.

A 5’ 9” person would have a BMI of 25 to 29 if they weighed 169 pounds to 202 pounds. That same person would have a BMI of 30 or more if they weighed 203 pounds or above. The BMI numbers are the same for both males and females.

Health risks associated with being overweight include increased risk of some types of cancer, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, arthritis, sleep apnea and respiratory problems according to Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“When physicians are assessing health risks as they relate to obesity, they will take into consideration the person’s waist circumference. Abdominal fat is a predictor of obesity-related diseases,” said Roberts.

It is possible to have a weight that is classified as overweight or obese but not have health risks.

“Healthcare providers can assess risks using, diet, physical activity, other measurements to assess actual body fat and other screenings to determine individual risk,” said Roberts.

For example, a highly trained athlete may have a BMI that indicates overweight or obesity because of their muscle mass.

“In 1991 no state in the United States had an obesity rate above 20 percent. Unfortunately, we are gaining ground in an area that would be better avoided,” said Roberts.

For more information on nutrition issues, go online to or contact one of the two nutrition and health education specialists working in the Ozarks: Tammy Roberts, (417) 682-3579 or Dr. Pam Duitsman, (417) 866-3039.

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