Section 2 - Continued
Obesity in West Virginia
Weight Category Prevalences. To chart changes in weight
among the state’s adults, the four weight categories defined by
the National Institutes of Health were used, i.e., underweight (BMI <18.5);
healthy, or normal, weight (BMI 18.5-24.9); overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9),
and obesity (BMI 30.0+). To fully understand the upward trend in the prevalence
of obesity, it is necessary to examine the trends of the other three weight
categories. Figure 3 illustrates the course over time of all four weight
categories in West Virginia.
Using a moving three-year average to eliminate yearly aberrations or
spikes in prevalence, the graphs clearly indicate that the greatest changes
have occurred in the categories of underweight, with an average annual
decrease of 2.7%, and obesity, with an average annual increase of 6.1%.
The prevalence of healthy weight has decreased approximately 1.8% per
year, while that of overweight has changed very little, with only a 0.4%
increase annually from 1987 through 2000. By far, the most dramatic change
has been in the prevalence of obesity.
Figure 3 graphs on one page - PDF Format
BRFSS data were aggregated from 1996 through 2000 in order to examine
the prevalence of obesity, as well as overweight and healthy weight6,
by selected characteristics. As shown in Figure 4, little difference was
found in obesity prevalence among men and women. However, men were nearly
half again as likely as women to be overweight; conversely, women were
38% more likely to report a healthy weight.
Middle-aged adults (aged 45-64) were more likely to be either overweight
or obese than adults of other ages (Figure 5). Young adults aged 18-24
were the most likely to report a healthy weight; even so, just over half
of this age group had a BMI in the healthy range. Nonwhite residents were
less likely than white residents to be a healthy weight or be overweight
and were more likely to be obese (Figure 6).
An association between weight and educational level was noted within
the categories of healthy weight and obesity, with respondents having
at least a college degree more likely to report a healthy weight and less
likely to be obese (Figure 7). Respondents with the highest household
incomes also were more likely to have a healthy BMI and less likely to
be obese (Figure 8).
were omitted from further analysis for two reasons. First, the sample
sizes of adults meeting the definition of underweight were too small to
allow meaningful comparisons; secondly, it was not possible to control
for such factors as ongoing illnesses that might be underlying cause of
underweight. Return to Text