Alabama has 4th highest rate of obesity

McDonald’s recently began posting calorie counts next to its menu items. Many restaurants take measures to be more transparent with their food’s nutrition.

by Student Writer Yu Fu

Thirty-two percent of adults in Alabama are obese, defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alabama ranks fourth among all states with the highest obesity rates.

27.5 percent of men were ruled obese from 1999 to 2000, and the frequency had increased to 35.5 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Among women, 33.4 percent were ruled obese from 1999 to 2000 with no significant change in 2009 to 2010 (35.8 percent).

“There are many factors that cause obesity, such as food with high calories, lack of activity, genetic factors and environmental reasons,” said Jill Englett, instructor of human environmental sciences.

Obesity is linked to increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers and other chronic conditions, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Alabama has the highest rates of hypertension in the South, according to the CDC’s report.

“I think it really depends on your lifestyle,” said Olivia Melvin, UNA student. “Some people can diet to lose weight; others need to work out.”

If current trends continue more than 44 percent of adults could be obese by the year 2030, according to the National Heart Forum.

“I would drink green shakes and work out if I’d like to lose weight,” Melvin said.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services discourages eating meals or snacks while watching TV. Cutting down on the amount of fat and calories in your family’s diet is a good way to maintain healthy weight.

Limiting fast food and being more active would help people to lose weight, Englett said.

“Eat healthier, at least five fruits and vegetables each day; decrease your screen time,” Englett said.

Screen time at home should be limited to two hours or less a day, unless it’s work- or homework-related, according to the NHLBI. The time spent in front of a screen could be better spent being more physically active.

“If you lose more than one or two pounds per week, it is very unhealthy behavior,” said Joyce McIntosh, associate professor of health, physical education and recreation. “You need to plan your physical activity.”

Adults need 105 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and two or more days on muscle-strengthening activities per week, according to the CDC. Busy students can break up 105 minutes into smaller chunks of time during the day, as long as the activity is at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.

McIntosh said exercise as well as dieting would be a better approach to losing weight.

“Pick up exercise you like and don’t stop,” she said.