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Archive for Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Kansas’ obesity problem growing

State goes from 27th to 22nd in national rankings

August 24, 2005

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Kansas is fat, and getting fatter.

More than 60 percent of state residents are obese or overweight, the Trust for America's Health reported Tuesday.

"We want those numbers to go down," said Dr. Howard Rodenberg, director of health for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Twenty-three percent of Kansans were considered obese - neither so hefty as Mississippi, where a nation-leading 28.1 percent of adults are obese, nor as lean as Colorado, whose relatively low 16.4 percent obesity rate made it the trimmest state in the nation.

"If weight loss were easy, everybody would be doing it," Rodenberg said.

That's not happening.

Kansas moved up the ranks of most obese states, from 27th in the trust's 2004 report to a three-way tie for 22nd.

The three-year average obesity rate in Kansas grew by 0.5 percent since the 2004 report.


Joanna Clingingsmith, 26, Lawrence, a personal trainer at Lawrence Athletic Club, 3201 Mesa Way, steadies the arms of Wilca Mason, 27, Eudora, as she works out with weights Tuesday afternoon. Many Kansans don't have the same resolve as Mason. A report from the Trust for America's Health says that roughly 23 percent of Kansans are obese, and more than 60 percent of the state's residents are overweight.

Joanna Clingingsmith, 26, Lawrence, a personal trainer at Lawrence Athletic Club, 3201 Mesa Way, steadies the arms of Wilca Mason, 27, Eudora, as she works out with weights Tuesday afternoon. Many Kansans don't have the same resolve as Mason. A report from the Trust for America's Health says that roughly 23 percent of Kansans are obese, and more than 60 percent of the state's residents are overweight.

Nationally, though, the obesity rate grew by 0.7 percent during the same period, to 22.7 percent of all Americans.

"We're pleased that the rate of increase in Kansas is lower than the rest of the nation," Rodenberg said, adding: "I think there's reason for optimism."

No surprise

At Lawrence Athletic Club, Fernando Rodriguez wasn't surprised by the report. The personal trainer said the start of the new school year had fueled a surge in clients looking to lose pounds and get into shape.

"We're starting to see a big pick-up in people coming in," Rodriguez said. "A lot of people were uncomfortable with their body this summer."

But good health doesn't end at the club door, Rodriguez said. Workers often skip workouts at the end of an eight-hour day behind the desk, he said, so employers should get involved and offer incentives to work out.

"In the long run, less sick days, (employees) would be a lot more motivated to work," Rodriguez said.

State officials agree.

The authors of the Trust for America's Health report praised Kansas government for encouraging "workplace wellness" programs, and observed that Kansas legislators recently passed a law requiring a nutritional examination of foods available in public schools.

Rodenberg said those efforts, combined with "Healthy Kansas" initiatives to raise awareness of obesity's ill effects - diabetes, heart problems and cancer, among them - are making a difference.

"It is something that is on everybody's radar screen. It is no longer a 'hidden epidemic,'" Rodenberg said.

No health education

But the report singled out Kansas as one of six states that do not require schools to provide health education to students. And it noted that Kansas in the last year joined 19 other states prohibiting lawsuits against restaurants for obesity-related medical conditions.

Seven of the top 10 most obese states were in the southeast region - Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana and Tennessee were the top five.

Only one state in the union, Oregon, failed to get fatter since the last report.

The trends won't be easy to reverse, Rodenberg said.

"It takes patience, it takes willpower, it takes exercise and good nutrition and good support systems to do it," he said.

Comments

RichardSimmonsKids 9 years, 4 months ago

Joanna needs to spot at the wrists, not the elbows, when assisting with that exercise in the photo. And BMI is fitness science brought to us by people who have never stepped foot in a gym; it doesn't account for body composition, which is why Priest Holmes is probably considered morbidly obese by the federal government ... and, by the same token, Courtney Love's wirey frame would make her the picture of health. Sure, there are fat people in Kansas, but you're better off judging that by the lines at Krispy Kreme than by looking at BMI. "Let's see, I want to measure how healthy a person is, but I don't want to use any scientific instruments, other than a scale and measuring tape," and thus, the idiot begat BMI.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 9 years, 4 months ago

Richard: I have always found that being spotted at the elbows on that exercise is much more beneficial than the wrists. For one, the spotter's hands get in the way. Do you prefer it the other way?

I agree that the BMI has skewed things a bit, but you can walk down the street and realize that Kansas is littered with fatties.

onehotmomma 9 years, 4 months ago

The BMI is rather hard to figure out (no pun intended). At 5'10" and 148 lbs, I have a BMI of 22.4, so according to the index, I can go as low as 125 or so lbs and not be considered underweight. I will look as though I am anorexic, but technically not underweight.

To bad more people can't figure out that exersize has more benefits than the physical rewards. It helps me deal with stress and actually clarifies my thinking. I am mentally and physically a better person. It truly is the "natural way to get high".

Prydain 9 years, 4 months ago

I agree that BMI is not an accurate scale for most people. According to my BMI I should be 190 pounds which I would be nothing but skin and bones.

christie 9 years, 4 months ago

Anyone taken a gander at that KU Football coach? Now there's a real example for youngsters. This guy could drop 100 pounds and you'd never know it. What's he weigh in at anyway? Hey pal, ever heard of going on a diet? Exercise? You are the coach by the way.

I think he should do a fund-rasier. $2.00 per pound. I bet he could raise $10,000 or more.

megorama 9 years, 4 months ago

Fundraiser per pound? Awesome idea Christie...let's provide even more incentive...he can POCKET the money...or bet yet, raffle it off to someone in the stands, maybe people will actually go to a game!

Skeptic 9 years, 4 months ago

One would expect a report of this nature to be written by at least SOME doctors, and the organization chaired by, oh, health care professionals.

Seems to be lawyers and Smart Growth organization presidents make up this organization and its report.

Ms_D_mocrat 9 years, 4 months ago

Christie, didn't you hear? The KU football coach eats his players after losses. Do you know how many mothers are still searching in vain for their sons? How does one maintain that kind of weight AND run a winning football team? Oh, yeah, never mind.

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