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Study Finds Obesity Rates May Be Under-reported, Especially In Some Regions

By Evelina Burnett | Published 15 Jan 2014 09:47pm | comments

Obesity rates in Mississippi and across the U.S. may actually be higher than usually reported. But a new study published this week says the Magnolia state’s obesity rates may not be the worst in the nation.

The study, published in the journal Obesity, says there may be regional differences in how American mis-report obesity.

The study directly weighed and measured about 30,000 Americans over the the age of 45 nationwide. It then compared those results with the most commonly used obesity rates, which are based on self-reported height and weight.

Dr. George Howard is one of the study’s authors. He says weight is the second-most under-reported number; only income is worse.

Dr. Howard, a professor at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Public Health, says you could still use this data to look at geographic patterns if everyone across the U-S under-reported their weight at the same rates.

But the study found that regions under-reported weight at different rates. Southerners seems to come closest to reporting their actual weight, he says. The study finds the Midwest region to have the larget rate of mis-reporting.

But obesity rates seem to be under-reported everywhere. Dr. John Hall is director of the Mississippi Center for Obesity Research. He notes that in Mississippi, the self-reported rates are still significantly lower than the directly measured rates, meaning that the state may have an even bigger obesity problem than previously thought.

Dr. Hall says this is unlikely to lead to major policy shifts, since obesity is already recognized as a major problem nationwide.

The report released this week stems from a larger study called Regards, which is ooking at the reasons for geographic and racial differences in stroke rates.

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