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America's obese kids, state by state: Alabama weighs in at No. 14

Posted Mar 04 2011 10:30pm
The latest obesity rates by state have been released, and the numbers don't add up to good news. American children, especially those in many southern states, are tipping the scales to a categorization of obese. This means their height to weight ratio puts them in the 95th percentile for body mass index.

The state's are broken down into five levels of obesity rates based on numbers collected in 2007 by the National Survey of Children's Health. Each state also has an individual report card , where you can take a closer look at the data. The lowest amount of obesity goes to Oregon, where 9.6 percent of the children are obese. The highest was found in Mississippi, were 21.9 percent of children were found to be obese. Alabama barely squeaked into the second highest category, with 17.9 percent of kids reportedly obese.

Stephenie Wallace, M.D., a UAB Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, says while Alabama only ranks 14th worst for childhood obesity numbers, the amount of kids considered overweight is still high. Those who are labeled overweight have a BMI in the 85th percentile. "In the 2009 'F as in Fat' report, Alabama was ranked sixth highest for the amount of overweight kids. So, Alabama has a lot of children who are overweight and not as many who are obese as other states. However, being overweight is a concern in children who have strong family histories of diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure, and there is a lot of that in Alabama. With these family risk factors, even overweight children may need to lose weight," Wallace explains.

Wallace goes on to note that Alabama is also ranked second in the country in terms of the number of obese adults, or those with a BMI of over 30. "Many of our children are not outgrowing obesity or being overweight and are becoming obese adults, many with health problems related to their weight," Wallace laments.

To help lose the weight, Wallace suggests:

  • Eating more fruits and vegetables

  • Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages

  • Exercising at least one hour per day

  • Keeping TV and computer time to a maximum of two hours per day
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