On a daily basis, weight conversations seem to crop up everywhere. Try this pill. Shoot for hypnosis. Snap a rubber band around your wrist when the urge for Cheetos hits. Weight Watchers. Jenny Craig, Nutri-System. And what about the frustrated naturally thin people that are epically sick of hearing about how dietary news should revolve around a bunch of overindulgent potato chip addicts?
What I find interesting, though, are the many and varied approaches the media goes with in order to make what’s really a very old story at least kind of fresh and exciting.
After regurgitating the fact that America leads the world in excessive BMI (and that “U.S. eating habits and diets have been exported,” leading to a 5% increase from 1980 to 2008 in the population percentage that fit the “obese” definition), Yahoo Finance explores causes for America’s excessive need to feed.
Like so many other issues where data are collected in the public sector and the information is used to solve problems nationwide, the problems are local. 24/7 Wall St. looked at a number of factors which cause unhealthy diets and resulting obesity. These include income, access to healthy food sources, the ability to pay for healthy food, the concentration of fast food outlets, and the consumption of fruits, vegetables, sugar, fat and soft drinks. The levels of healthy eating defined with these parameters varies wildly …
… from state-to-state. That means there is not likely to be any one set of solutions created and funded at the federal level to solve the problem. Just as education results and their causes are hyper-local, so are the habits that cause unhealthy diets and their results. That makes the problem harder to solve. Congress cannot mandate how many McDonald’s can be built within any hundred square mile area, or, if it could, McDonald’s would object.
Yup, Yahoo Finance actually lists the ten states with the worst eating habits … along with a helpful explanation of why.
10. New Mexico
[New Mexico] has the 44th-greatest percentage of households without a car that are more than 10 miles from a supermarket or grocery store and the 44th-greatest percentage of population that has low income and is more than 10 miles from a supermarket or grocery store, according to the United States Department of Ag1riculture. These metrics are significant because they suggest a lack of access to affordable and nutritious food. Residents may rely on fast food restaurants and convenience stores instead. New Mexico has the eighth-greatest amount of money spent on fast food per capita among all the states considered.
So it’s easier to trudge over to the nearby McD’s instead of schlepping eleven miles to the grocery store to get real food? That’s … almost understandable.
Arizona has the second-fewest grocery stores per person, with only 0.17 for every 1,000 people. This illustrates a major restriction on healthy food access for one of the country’s fastest growing states. One of the ways in which residents of Arizona are supplementing their diets is with fast food. Arizonans spent an average of $760.50 each on fast food in 2007, the fourth-greatest amount among the states.
Wow … while I understand that it’s not possible to outlaw Taco Bell franchises, wouldn’t you think that a grocery store or two would capitalize on the commercial zoning opportunities?
Ohio’s population has the 11th-greatest consumption of soft drinks, and top-10 highest consumption of both sweet snacks and solid fats. As a result of these poor diets, Ohio has an adult diabetes occurrence of over 10%, which is the 11th-worst rate in the country.
While Ohio struggles with the grocery store to fast food chain ratio as well, they have the added concern of a high rate of diabetes. Hmm …
7. South Dakota
Only 10.1% of adults in South Dakota consume the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommended two or more fruits and three or more vegetables per day, compared to the national average of 14%. This is the fifth-worst rate in the nation.
You know, I don’t understand this. I thought that bulking up soups with vegetables, putting lettuce and tomato on sandwiches, and putting chopped onion and green peppers into everything from spaghetti sauce to meatloaf was par for the course these days.
Nevada spends the most per capita on fast food — nearly $940 per person per year. This is roughly 25% more than Texas, the second-worst state, and well more than twice what Vermont residents spend. As might be expected, the state ranks in the bottom 10 for both households with no cars and low-income populations, defined as people with income less than 200 percent of the federal poverty thresholds, and proximity to grocery stores. Nevada’s obesity and diabetes rates, are above average.
I do have to wonder how much of that is related to tourists or part-time Nevadaites.
The rate of household-level food insecurity, including households with food access problems as well as households that experience disruptions in their food intake patterns due to inadequate resources for food, is 15.2% in Oklahoma. The national rate is 13.5%.
It just boggles my mind that I could walk a mile in any direction and come across a store—and I live in freaking New Hampshire. Food access problems … that just sounds so sad.
Kansas has some of the easiest access (seventh-best) to stores where cheap and healthy food is available. It is clear, however, that most residents do not take advantage of this, as the state has one of the worst diets in the country. Residents consume the 12th-most sweet snacks per person as well as the 12th-most solid fats — more than 20 pounds per person.
So leave it to Kansas to disprove the “increase in accessible supermarkets equals fewer trips to KFC” theory.
Missouri does not rank especially poor in any of the metrics considered, however it does rank badly in about almost every one [grocery stores per 1,000 residents, amount spent on fast food per capita, gallons of soft drinks purchased per capita, and pounds of sweet snacks purchased per capita].
So general across-the-board suckiness in all metrics puts Missouri in the number three slot … and 30% of its adult population sporting 30+ BMIs.
Alabama residents consume 77 gallons of soft drinks per capita per year, the fourth-highest amount in the country. This is roughly 33% more than Oregon, which consumes the least. Soft drinks like cola have more sugar per ounce than nearly any other food we regularly consume, and it is clear that soda has helped contribute to Alabama’s poor health outcomes. The state has the seventh-highest obesity rate and, predictably, the second-worst diabetes rate.
I wonder if that whole “deep fried everything” stereotype plays a role here at all …
Mississippi has the worst eating habits in the country. Only 8.8% of the adult population eats the recommended amount of daily fruits and vegetables, the lowest rate in the country. Residents consumed just under 82 gallons of soft drinks per capita in 2006, the greatest amount reported. Furthermore, the state has the third-highest rate of household-level food insecurity, with 17.1% of households being affected. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the state has the highest rates of both adult diabetes (12.8%) and adult obesity (34.4%).
Any surprises here, or any question about the veracity of the statistics?