DIET&FITNESS Published November19, 2014 By Staff Writer

United States Is a Lot Fatter than We Thought, Study Says

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obesity campaign poster
(Photo : Melissa Gruntkosky-Flickr)

While you may be right in saying that more people are becoming obese in the United States, you may be wrong when it comes to percentages. According to a new study, many states in the country have a higher obesity rate than first reported.

Zachary Ward, a researcher of the public health department of Harvard School presented his findings in the presence of many health professionals in the recent meeting organized by American Public Health Association.

With the help doctors, he's able to figure out that although obesity is increasing in the country, the previous data that we may have about it may not be exactly true for one simple reason: method of measurement.

In the prior study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to measure obesity in the country called Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), researchers relied on the information provided by the respondents via telephone, which then left a lot of room for errors. For example, they might have overestimated their height or underestimated their weight, both of which had a significant impact on the body mass index (BMI), one of the metrics for determining obesity. A healthy BMI, depending on the person's sex, height, and weight, falls between 18.5 and 24.9 based on men and women who are at least 20 years, according to American Cancer Society.

In this latest study called National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), doctors themselves obtained the needed measurements. According to the results, all states except Hawaii have at least 30% obesity rate, with Mississippi and Louisiana having 40%. Hawaii is the only state that registered below these percentages. These results are quite different from the previous studies, which suggested that no state went more than 40% while only a few states have an obesity rate of 30% and higher.

There's also a 6% discrepancy in the overall rate of obesity with the newer study reporting 34%. 

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