Calling the U.S. obesity epidemic an “issue” would be to grossly understate matters. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, more than two-thirds (68.8%) of adults over the age of 20 are considered overweight or obese, and more than one in 20 are extremely obese.
Consequently, the U.S. is plagued with a number of other health issues. Obesity can lead to such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more. Every 17 seconds, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with diabetes. One study showed that obese people are 83% more likely to develop kidney disease in comparison to normal-weight people. The obesity epidemic also costs the workforce about $73.1 billion per year.
According to a massive Gallup and Healthways survey of more than 175,000 Americans nationwide, obesity rates in 2014 rose to 27.7% — 2.2 points higher than when Gallup first began observing obesity rates in 2008.
The most interesting part of Gallup’s findings is the distribution of obesity across the nation. Obesity rates are highest in Southern and Midwestern states, and are linked to lower well-being.
According to the findings, Hawaii, Colorado, and Montana are the least obese, while Mississippi, West Virginia, and Louisiana are the most obese, respectively. Mississippi also had the highest obesity rate in the country for the second year in a row.
The findings are based on the latest edition of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, in which respondents self-reported their height and weight. Gallup then used this data to calculate respondents’ Body Mass Index (BMI) scores. Those with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese.
The Well-Being Index finds the well-being of respondents through five essential elements: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical. Based upon their answers to survey questions, respondents are placed into one of three, well-being categories: thriving, struggling, or suffering. Gallup and Healthways has found a consistent link between obesity rates and Americans’ overall well-being.
According to the study, obese adults are:
29.3% more likely like to suffer in purpose well-being than those who aren’t obese
14.8% more likely like to suffer in social well-being than those who aren’t obese
33.7 more likely like to suffer in financial well-being than those who aren’t obese
17.5% more likely like to suffer in community well-being than those who aren’t obese
In short, obesity is a complex problem strongly linked to many other aspects of life. In order to combat the obesity epidemic, it seems that the American quality of life needs to improve.