Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Obesity Levels In United States Are Grossly Underestimated

Date:
May 1, 2006
Source:
Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
Obesity levels in US have been greatly underestimated, according to a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. states has been greatly underestimated. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) analyzed data from health surveys, which are used to estimate obesity levels in states. Because people tend to provide incorrect information about their weight and height, especially in telephone surveys, the researchers concluded that estimates of obesity in individual states have been too low, by more than 50%. Their study, which corrects for misreporting in those surveys, appears in the May 2006 issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Related Articles


Obesity is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, causing some 2.6 million deaths worldwide each year. In the U.S., survey data on obesity on a national and state level is obtained using information gathered by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which uses telephone interviews; national data is also collected using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which does in-person interviews and follow-up height and weight measurements on people who agree to a clinical exam. Lead author Majid Ezzati, Associate Professor of International Health at HSPH, and his colleagues analyzed and compared the data from the two surveys in order to quantify the level of bias when people self-report their height and weight, especially in a telephone interview.

Based on this new understanding of the survey data, the authors found that, on average, women tend to underestimate their weight while men do not. When it comes to height, young and middle-aged men tend to overestimate their height more than women in the same age group. In 2002, the corrected prevalence of obesity in the U.S. population was 28.7% for adult men and 34.5% for adult women, more than 50% higher than previously estimated.

The research, which presents the first-ever corrected estimates of obesity for individual states, found that Southern states have the highest levels of obesity in the country. Using the authors' corrected data for 2000, the highest obesity levels for men were found in Texas (31%) and Mississippi (30%). For women, Texas (37%), Louisiana (37%), Mississippi (37%), District of Columbia (37%), Alabama (37%) and South Carolina (36%) led the pack. States with the lowest prevalence of corrected obesity for men in 2000 were Colorado (18%), District of Columbia (21%) and Montana (21%); for women Colorado (24%), Montana (25%) and Massachusetts (27%).

"The results show that there are clear geographical patterns of obesity," said Ezzati. "Using this data, national and state public health institutions can better target resources and programs toward combating the growing epidemic."

This work was supported by a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the Association of Schools of Public Health and by the National Institute on Aging.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Harvard School of Public Health. "Obesity Levels In United States Are Grossly Underestimated." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060501231437.htm>.
Harvard School of Public Health. (2006, May 1). Obesity Levels In United States Are Grossly Underestimated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060501231437.htm
Harvard School of Public Health. "Obesity Levels In United States Are Grossly Underestimated." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060501231437.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Bupa is hoping to expand in India&apos;s fast-growing health insurance market, once a rule change on foreign investment is implemented. The British private healthcare group&apos;s CEO tells Grace Pascoe why it&apos;s so keen on the new opportunity. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Mobile apps are turning smartphones into a personal doctors, with users able to measure heart rate, blood pressure and even blood sugar. But will it change our behaviour? Ivor Bennett reports from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AbbVie Inks $21B Deal To Buy Cancer Drugmaker Pharmacyclics

AbbVie Inks $21B Deal To Buy Cancer Drugmaker Pharmacyclics

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) AbbVie announced Wednesday it will buy cancer drugmaker Pharmacyclics in a $21 billion deal. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toddlers Drinking Coffee? Why You Shouldn't Share Your Joe

Toddlers Drinking Coffee? Why You Shouldn't Share Your Joe

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) A survey of Boston mothers and toddlers found that 15 percent of two-year-olds drink coffee and 2.5 percent of 1-year-olds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins