The South often has the reputation of being home to the most obese people in the country. But a new study suggests they might just be more honest about their weight compared to other regions — and are not the fattest after all.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s data collected for 2011 found the South having the highest prevalence of obesity, compared to the rest of the country. Conversely, the study by researchers at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, published in the journal Obesity, found the West North Central and East North Central Census divisions had a higher prevalence of obesity.
The difference according to the study is between self-reported data and directly measured height and weight.
“It is hard to know exactly what is going on, but my speculation is that people in the South are telling the truth more,” George Howard, a UAB biostatistics professor said, according to Al.com. “Perhaps there is not as much stigma connected to obesity as say someone in California, or in this case, Minnesota.”
Women, Howard said, were more likely to lie about their weight, but men weren’t off the hook either. Men were more likely to lie about height, which impacts body mass index calculations.
Comparing height and weight data collected in the REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) study to the CDC’s self-reported Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the researchers found that obesity went up everywhere around the country, but the South saw less of a bump.
The study stated that the issue of following self-reported data should be considered as it might have implications on current policy proposals.
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