Obesity Prevention 

Overweight and obesity are among the most serious health problems in Arkansas today and are at epidemic proportions in our state.  More than a third of Arkansans are overweight and almost one third are obese. In short, two thirds of Arkansans are too fat. And for the first time in our nation’s history, obese children and teens are developing chronic diseases formerly seen only in adults.  

Obesity has been connected with high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.

BMI (Body Mass Index) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. It is used to measure overweight and obesity. It is based on a formula of fat to lean body mass.

Classification BMI
Underweight Less than 18.5
Normal Weight 18.5 to 24.9
Overweight 25 to 29.9
Obese 30.0 and above

Arkansas BMI, 2008

Obesity Chart 200834% Normal Weight
36% Overweight
30% Obese

 

There are some concerns about using BMI as the sole measure of excess weight since it cannot distinguish between fat and muscle.  People with a significant amount of muscle may have higher BMIs but not have an unhealthy amount of body fat.  In addition, there may be some ethnic or racial differences.  For example, those of African and/or Polynesian descent may have less body fat and leaner muscle tissue suggesting higher baseline BMIs for overweight and obesity.  Those of Asian and Aboriginal descent, in spite of healthy BMIs, may still be at high risk of weight related problems.

In recognition of these potential shortcomings of BMI, another measure of obesity and overweight, waist circumference or stomach fat, is also used.  

 

Gender Waist Circumference
Men More Than 40 Inches
Woman More Than 35 Inches

Classification of Overweight and Obesity by BMI and Waist Circumference 

Weight Class

BMI

Obesity Class

Men: 40 inches 
or less

Women: 35 inches or less

Men: 40+ inches

Women 35 + inches

Underweight

Less than 18.5

 

 

 

 

 

Normal

18.5-24.9

 

 

 

 

 

Overweight

25.0-29.0

 

Increased risk

Increased risk

High risk

High risk

Obese

30.0-34.9

I

High risk

High risk

Very high
risk

Very high risk

 

35.0-39.9

II

Very high
risk

Very high
risk

Very high risk

Very high risk

Extremely Obese

40.0+

III

Extremely
high risk

Extremely
high risk

Extremely
high risk

Extremely
high risk

Source:  National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, Accessed September 3, 2009.

By any measure Arkansas ranks among the top ten most obese states in the country. 

  

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