Archive for Sunday, October 3, 1999


October 3, 1999


A survey identifies Douglas County's weighty problems.

To consumers grazing in the land of massive hamburgers and barrel-size soft drinks it should come as no surprise to learn that about half of the U.S. population is overweight.

By overweight, we're not talking about looks or comparing ourselves to models in J.C. Penney catalogs. We're talking about extra weight that plays a big role in heart disease, cancer, gallstones, type II diabetes and other ailments.

Last year, a telephone survey conducted by the Douglas County Community Health Improvement Project (CHIP) and funded by the Kansas Health Foundation tried to gauge the health of the county. The results show that of more than 1,000 Douglas County residents surveyed, 23 percent of the males and 20 percent of the females were overweight.

This was determined by body mass index (BMI) measurement. The method takes height and weight into account. For example, by BMI standards if you're 6-foot and weigh 200 pounds, you're 15 pounds overweight. If you're 5-foot-6, you should weigh no more than 145.

Some of the other findings in the survey:

  • Overweight respondents had more problems with diabetes, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) reported exercising less than three times a week for 20 minutes.
  • Residents of Baldwin, Eudora and Lecompton reported exercising slightly less than Lawrence residents.
  • Males reportedly exercised slightly more than females.
  • The group who exercised the most (five times a week for 30 minutes or more) were students and residents with annual incomes below $10,000.
  • Residents exercising the least were high school graduates with annual incomes between $10,000 and $35,000.
  • Weight increased with age until 65 and then began to decrease.

An identical statewide survey was conducted by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Twenty-six percent of Kansans surveyed reported being overweight and 58 percent reported living a sedentary lifestyle or not exercising for 20 minutes three times a week.

-- Bill Snead's phone message number is 832-7196. His e-mail address is

  • About 97 million American adults -- 55 percent -- are either overweight or obese.
  • Sales of oversized coffins at the nation's largest casket company are up 20 percent in the last five years; the biggest jump was last year.
  • A 64-ounce soft drink can contain between 600 and 800 calories.
  • Well more than half of all adult Americans report no regular leisure time physical activity and 25 percent say they get none at all.
  • Children's levels of obesity can be predicted by the number of hours each day they watch television.

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