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Are Girls in the South More Likely to Become Obese?


Are Girls in the South More Likely to Become Obese?

Are girls in the south more likely to become obese?

The percentage of obese girls in the United States increased more than twice as much as the percentage of obese boys from 2003 to 2007, according to a study by researchers at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

States such as Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee were in the top 20 percent of childhood obesity rates with prevalence exceeding 20%, while states such as Oregon and Wyoming in the Western region had the lowest obesity rates with a prevalence of about 10%. The geographic disparities in obesity prevalence increased between 2003 and 2007.

“Children in several states in the South are at twice the risk of becoming obese than children in Oregon, which had the lowest prevalence rate,” said study’s lead author, Dr. Gopal K. Singh, of HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

Based on children aged 10 to 17, the study was the first to present geographic differences over time among individual states and used extensive individual, household, and neighborhood data from two large, nationally representative cross-sectional surveys conducted under the overall direction and sponsorship from HRSA and conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study also analyzed overweight prevalence among children and adolescents.

Overweight and obesity are labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems. This study analyzed heights and weights of children as reported by their parents during the surveys.

Additional information found in this study included the following:

  • While overweight prevalence among the total population did not
    increase significantly between 2003 and 2007, it increased 9 percent
    among girls in these areas.
  • Overweight prevalence varied from a low of 23.1 percent in Utah to a
    high of 44.5 percent in Mississippi.
  •  Obesity prevalence nearly doubled among girls in  Arizona and

Risks of obesity or overweight increased significantly in relation to decreased household income, lower neighborhood access to parks or sidewalks, lower levels of physical activity, and increased television viewing time and computer use.

This study implies that girls in southern states are more likely to become overweight.

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