Section 2 - Continued
Obesity in West Virginia
Weight Category and Health Status. Self-perceived health
status was ascertained by asking respondents if in general they thought
their health was excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor. Figure 9 shows
how perceived health status is associated with weight. Obese individuals
were far less likely than their leaner counterparts to describe their
health as excellent or very good; conversely, they were more likely to
report only fair or poor health.
Although obese individuals were more likely to report having only fair
or poor health, they were less likely to have health insurance than their
overweight counterparts, as shown in Figure 10. Nearly one-fourth (23.6%)
of obese adults aged 18-64 reported in 2000 that they had no health care
Weight Category and Chronic Disease Prevalence. Excess
weight has been linked to many chronic diseases including heart disease,
diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and osteoarthritis. Data from the West
Virginia BRFSS surveys allowed an examination of relationships between
weight and the prevalence of these diseases among the state’s adults.
Figure 11 illustrates the prevalence of having had a heart attack by weight
category. While only 5.4% of respondents of healthy weight reported a
heart attack, over twice as many, or 11.4%, of obese respondents had suffered
a heart attack.
Hypertension prevalence data from 1999 (the most recent available at time
of publication) are presented in Figure 12. As with having had a heart
disease, the lowest prevalence of high blood pressure was reported by
adults of healthy weight. Overweight individuals reported hypertension
at a rate nearly 60% higher than their normal-weight counterparts, while
obese respondents were more than twice as likely to have been told they
had high blood pressure.
The association between weight and diabetes is even more striking, as
illustrated in Figure 13. Only 3.2% of those with a BMI of 18.5-24.9 had
ever been told they had diabetes. Seven percent (7.0%) of overweight respondents
had diabetes, however, while 12.6% of obese West Virginians surveyed from
1996-2000 had been diagnosed with diabetes.
A clear-cut association between asthma and weight was not evident in the
2000 BRFSS data. As shown in Figure 14, little difference in asthma prevalence
was noted among respondents who reported a healthy weight or were overweight.
Obese persons were more likely, however, to report having been diagnosed
One of the questions asked respondents to the 2000 Behavioral Risk Factor
Survey if they were limited in any way during the previous 12 months because
of back pain. The graph below illustrates clearly the direct association
between weight and activity limitation due to back pain. While approximately
one in five (22.4%) respondents who were of healthy weight answered yes
to this question, 35.9% of obese persons had been limited in some of their
activities because of back pain.