Higher Southern Obesity Rate May Be a Myth

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By: Mari Gold

It is commonly thought that Southerners are more overweight than their northern counterparts. Not so according to a study conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and published in the journal Obesity.

The study found a far higher percentage of obese people in some central and northwest states, including Minnesota, Kansas, and North and South Dakota. When UAB researchers compared what subjects reported via a telephone survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and what people actually weighed, the numbers didn’t add up. George Howard, professor in the Department of Biostatics at UAB, speculates that Southerners are more truthful about reporting their weight, possibly because being overweight is less stigmatized in the South.

Typically, women under-report their weight more than men. Men over-report their height so their body mass index is lower, making them seem less hefty.

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