Last updated on April 12th, 2017
I was obese for several years before I began eating low-carb high-fat in March 2011, with a body mass index hovering in the neighborhood of 33 – 34. That’s not a great neighborhood to hover in. A person with a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.
Most of my extra weight was around my middle, too, which is the worst place for it.
I have managed to keep my BMI under the obesity line for the past four years. Just barely, at some points, but I’ve done it. For the past four years, I’ve been merely over-weight. I don’t claim that as a great achievement, but I’m doing better than many of my fellow Americans.
According to a new Gallup-Healthways report, 27.7% of Americans were obese in 2014. It’s the highest rate ever, up 0.6% since 2013 and up 2.2% since 2008. Here in Michigan, the obesity rate is 30.8%, ranking my state as the 11th most obese in the nation.
States with an Obesity Rate above 30%
Michigan: 30.8 percent
Missouri: 30.9 percent
Iowa: 31.1 percent
Indiana: 31.4 percent
Kentucky: 31.5 percent
Alabama: 32.1 percent
Oklahoma: 32.6 percent
Arkansas: 33.0 percent
Louisiana: 33.2 percent
West Virginia: 34.3 percent
Mississippi: 35.2 percent
Even in the slimmest state — Hawaii — nearly one in five residents (19%) are obese. Yes, that’s better than the one in three rate in some states, but still a significant public health problem.
Every day, there seems to be another study published that proposes an “association” between some factor and obesity. The associations include the altitude you live at, whether or not you were bullied as a child, and how well your mom took care of herself before you were born. Name a life factor, and someone has studied its link to obesity — or will do so soon.
Looking at the states with the highest and lowest rates of obesity, another association is apparent: poverty. As one source notes, “Nine out of the 10 most obese states have poverty rates above the national average. . . .” The state with the highest obesity rate — Mississippi — also has the highest poverty rate.
The correlation isn’t perfect. Still, it’s hard to argue with the notion that the poorer you are, the less access you will have to quality food.
And the cheapest foods tend to be the carbiest foods. While I could eat my LCHF diet on a lower income, it would be tough, especially in American urban areas where decent supermarkets can be hard to find.
At root, I believe that obesity is caused by the composition of our diets — by what we eat — but that what we eat is influenced by many factors — including poverty, education, government policy, and advertising.
Habit, too, I suppose.
For myself, to get my BMI below 25, and be “normal weight,” I’ll need to lose another 26 pounds. It’s an ambitious goal. An even more ambitious goal will be to stay there.