New CDC Report—How Obese is Rhode Island?
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
"The numbers have shown worsening levels of obesity throughout the country over the past 20+ years," said Vincent Pera, MD, Director of The Miriam Hospital's Weight Management Program. Compared to the rest of the country, Rhode Island's level of obesity is "not so bad," he said, but it is "still a number that causes concern given the close link of obesity with many medical problems." Pera listed obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and sleep apnea, all of which "have also seen increased prevalence and severity as obesity has increased."
Room to improve
"RI looks good compared to many states, but not as good when compared to other New England states," according to Dara Chadwick, Chief Officer of Health Promotion at RI Department of Health (HEALTH). "Certainly, when it comes to obesity rates, RI has room to improve."
Nationwide, rates of adult obesity remained high in 2011, with state estimates ranging from 20.7 percent in Colorado (#51 on the list that included the District of Columbia, making it the least obese state in the nation) to 34.9 percent in Mississippi (#1). No state had a prevalence of adult obesity less than 20 percent, and 12 states had a prevalence of 30 percent or more. The South had the highest prevalence of adult obesity (29.5 percent), followed by the Midwest (29 percent), the Northeast (25.3 percent) and the West (24.3 percent).
Attacking obesity: local approaches
The Ocean State has a number of organizations working to combat obesity. The RI Department of Health stresses the significant health and economic effects of obesity, and has launched an "Eat Smart, Move More" Rhode Island Plan for Action 2010-2015 for state and local leaders. The Miriam Hospital's Weight Management Program, which Pera oversees, offers specialized treatment plans to prevent and address obesity. "Following a regimen provided by qualified healthcare providers geared to the specific needs of the individual will help one to lose weight effectively, appropriately and safely," he said. Patients who take part in the program are supervised by a team of professionals including bariatric physicians, psychologists, nutritionists, and exercise physiologists.
Pera stressed the importance of addressing obesity from a preventive approach as well as an active approach. "Prevention centers around increasing activity to burn calories and healthy nutritious eating to keep the body in balance," he said. "Losing weight is done best when the calories consumed provide all of the nutritional needs of the body. Also, exercise will enhance weight loss."
The Miriam Hospital also conducts research on obesity, including investigating the strong relationship between obesity and genetic factors. The center conducts a number of research projects on the variables that impact obesity.
Who is at risk?
Who is especially at risk? According the the RI Department of Health, for RI men, risk of obesity increases with age. For RI women, risk increases for those who have a lower income, lower education, and live in core cities--Pawtucket, Providence, Woonsocket, Newport, West Warwick, and Central Falls. Children in core cities also report more unhealthy behaviors related to being overweight and obese.
Obesity is not just an issue that faces adults. "The trend of worsening adult obesity is now being overshadowed by that of worsening childhood obesity," Pera said. "With about a third of Rhode Island children entering kindergarten overweight or obese, obesity prevention efforts must target young children," according to Michael Fine, MD, Director of HEALTH. This very issue will be discussed at a one-hour screening and panel discussion on August 23, an event titled "The Weight of the Nation: Confronting America's Obesity Epidemic." The event, which will include RI Department of Health's Dr. Michael Fine and Mayor Angel Taveras, will be held at RISD's Metcalf Auditorium at 6 p.m.
About the CDC's data: a new baseline
CDC’s 2011 data cannot be compared to their data from previous years, as several updates occurred with BRFSS that impact estimates of state-level adult obesity prevalence. First, there was an overall change in the BRFSS methodology, including the incorporation of cell-phone only households, and a new weighting process. These changes in methodology were made to ensure that the sample better represents the population in each state. Second, to generate more accurate estimates of obesity prevalence, small changes were made to the criteria used to determine which respondents are included in the data analysis. Data collected in 2011 will provide a new baseline for obesity prevalence data collected in subsequent years.
BRFSS is only one of several data sets that monitor rates of obesity in the United States. When considering these other data sets, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the obesity epidemic is still a major public health problem.
For more Health coverage, don't miss GoLocalTV, fresh every day at 4pm and on demand 24/7, here.
- 5 Ways to Lose Weight This Summer
- Coaches Can Help Weight Loss—New Miriam Research
- Big Breakfast and Weight Loss: Debunking the Myth
- Is Weight Loss Contagious?
- Junk Food in Schools May Not Cause Weight Gain in Kids
- NEW: Miriam Study: Weight-Loss Surgery Can Significantly Improve Migraines
- New Study at Miriam Hospital Targets Weight Gain Prevention in Young Adults
- Weight-Loss Enzyme Identified by Brown Researchers
- Local Programs for Weight Loss