It’s officially now the holidays season — that time when cookies are being baked, pies are being planned, the Thanksgiving and Christmas recipies and menus are being decided.
The next three months may perhaps be the most weight-gaining time of the year for most Americans.
With November being National Diabetes Awareness Month and more than two-thirds of American adults being either obese or overweight already, the personal finance website WalletHub recently conducted an in-depth analysis of 2015’s Fattest States in America.
To find where weight issues are most prevalent and to encourage Americans to re-evaluate their lifestyles, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 12 key metrics. The data set ranges from the percentage of adults and children who are overweight and obese to the sugary-beverage consumption among adolescents.
What the study showed was that “fat” may be the new normal in America. Drawing on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a report from JAMA Internal Medicine found that more than 75 percent of American adults today are either overweight or obese. And for the first time in history, the number of obese people has surpassed that of the overweight.
In the past two decades, especially, America’s weight problem has grown dramatically, inspiring a surge of new programs and products designed to promote better health and help Americans shed the extra pounds.
But new statistics published by the Physical Activity Council suggest a need for more aggressive efforts to combat the issue. In 2014, nearly 83 million Americans were completely inactive, the highest number reported since 2007. A sedentary lifestyle, or lack of physical activity, is one of the leading causes of obesity in addition to other factors such as genetics, emotional instability and lack of sleep.
Where North Carolina stands
According to all the metrics used to determine the fattest states in America, the Tar Heel State ranks as the 15th fattest. The state rank among the major areas are as follows:
— No 9 in percentage of adults who are averweight
— No. 25 in percentage of adults who are obese
— No. 26 in percentage of children who are overweight
— No. 18 in percentage of children who are obese
— No. 22 in percentage of residents who are physically inactive
— No. 26 in percentage of residents with high cholesterol
— No. 17 in percentage of adults eating less than one serving of fruits/vegetables per day
— No. 18 in percentage of residents with diabetes
— No. 11 in percentage of residents with hypertension
— No. 13 in death rate due to obesity
From an expert
According to Pouran D. Faghrl, a professor of health promotion sciences and director for the Center for Environmental Health & Promotion at the University of Connecticut, there are relatively simple ways to turn the tables on obesity.
“Eating healthy means more fruits and vegetable and less fat and simple carbs,” she said. I usually recommend buying in-season fruits and vegetables, and consider local farmers markets.
“Many vegetables can be frozen and retain their nutritional values for a good amount of time in the freezer,” she added. “Also canned fruits, not the ones in sugary syrup, and canned vegetables still have good nutritional value and can be bought in bulk. They have a long shelf life and are cheaper than buying fresh.”
Faghrl also said a key factor in weightloss efforts is to avoid being a compulsive buyer.
“Do not go to the store hungry, stressed or depressed because that is when the most impulse for buying unhealthy foods — and sometimes expensive and empty caloric foods — occurs,” she said. “Generate a list of what you need to buy and stick with it.”
And one more important tip:
“Avoid areas where the unhealthy foods are located,” Faghrl said. “Remember … Fuit Roll Up is not fruit.”
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.