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SPEAK OUT: Is Obesity a Concern in Maryland?

Data from the Center for Disease Control shows that Maryland ranks 22nd highest in obesity in the country.

Using 2011 data, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently ranked Maryland as the 22nd most obese state in the nation. 

At 28.3 percent, Maryland’s obesity rate is up just over 1 percent from the previous year.

In addition, 2009 data from the CDC showed that Prince George’s County had the third highest obesity rate among adults in the state with 33.8 percent, while Montgomery County had the lowest in the state with 18.1 percent.

According to the 2009 study, Montgomery County was the only county with an obesity rate below 20 percent. In the 2011 state rankings, no state was below 20 percent.

Colorado ranked the lowest with 20.7 percent of adults considered obese, while Mississippi was highest at 34.9 percent. 

Nationally, about 35.7 percent of adults are considered obese, meaning they have a body mass index (a number calculated using a person’s height and weight) of 30 or higher. 

A 2008 study from the CDC showed that medical costs associated with obesity totaled about $147 billion.

Do you think obesity is a problem in Maryland? What do you think about the state and counties’ rankings on the CDC? Tell us your thoughts in our poll and in the comments. 

Native August 14, 2012 at 09:55 PM
What jurisdiction in the state had the highest? In answer to your question, obesity is a problem no matter where. However, everyone knows it's dangers (as everyone knows the risks of smoking). As such, it comes down to personal responsibility (except of course those with medical issues). Government has no place telling people what or how to eat. Giving recommendations or suggestions is fine, but doing foolish things such as the nanny mayor of NY is trying to do is ridiculous.
Tracy Thompson August 15, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Yes, obesity continues to be a problem state and nationwide. It's time that we switch focus and money from treating obesity-related illnesses to preventative medicine, i.e., health, fitness and wellness. Child obesity is becoming a more prominent problem as is adolescent diabetes and hypertension, and parents and physicians must intervene now for their health future.
Dani Knight August 15, 2012 at 10:47 AM
Yes I do believe it is a HUGE problem. No pun intended. I am very concerned for everyone...specially the kids. I am in the works of developing a kids bootcamp at my gym...Dani K Gym & Wellness. Something needs to change and it starts w us...and definitely the parents if these overweight kids. I want to do my part as well. Spreading my knowledge and expertise.
Kathy August 15, 2012 at 11:04 AM
Somerset County with 39.7% came in "first" and Dorchester County was second with 35.6%. And what the mayor of NY is doing is silly--restricting giant sodas is not going to have an effect if people still eat tons of crap. People should be educated about nutrition but then they have to want to change--even those with medical issues. Like the guy I once saw who lost his larynx to throat cancer and then continued to smoke through the little hole--there are some people that just can't be helped unless they really want it.
Kathy August 15, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Portions of food have gotten so much bigger and there is sugar/corn syrup in everything so that is a big cause, but I think the biggest cause of child obesity is that kids just don't get out a play anymore. The government can't force kids to play, but we can require schools to have gym or recess every day, like they used to when we were kids. After school sports programs and low cost rec programs will also help. But the main thing is that parents have to tell the kids "turn that damn thing off and go outside for a while!" And it wouldn't hurt if the parents got out there with them too.
Kathy August 15, 2012 at 12:30 PM
In our school we played hard at gym. Yes there were slackers who didn't, just like some blew off math or English, but on the whole we left that class wiped! And Mcdonalds and fast food have been around since the 50s but they were an occasional treat-not a 2 or 3 times a week meal. Plus fast food portions have tripled since the 1960s. But the main problem is the high fructose corn syrup. It HAS been around since the 1960s but only in the 70s was the process discovered to mass produce it into every food, making it sweeter and extending shelf life from days to years. Now everything--pizza, meat, bread, cheese--has it. Also in the 70s concern over heart disease prompted manufacturers to produce "low fat" foods. Overnight low fat yogurt, cheese, cakes, cookies all appeared on the shelves. But when you take fat out of food it tastes like cardboard unless you replace it with something--like HFCS. It is almost impossible to find a manufactured food without it. It is crazy to force snacks and desserts on a child and luckily I never saw my friends doing it, but not doing that it not enough. Parents have to read labels, buy lower sugar foods, prepare and serve more fresh food, and eat home more. We should also push our schools to serve healthier lunches or--like my kids do--pack brown bag lunches. And soda should be saved only for special occasions like birthday parties. Water is a great drink for kids and adults.
Wendie August 15, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Actually, the meth-head junkie zombie section 8s roaming around everywhere are a way bigger concern for me.
JoeEldersburg August 15, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Kathy, you make a great point about HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and statistics prove that since its introduction into our food supply, there is a direct correlation with its use to our obesity rates. I disagree with you, however, on the role that responsible government might play here. It could be argued that obesity is likely just as dangerous as smoking to our health. It lowers our life expectancies, raises our chances of heart disease, increases our rates of diabetes, increases work absenteeism and reduces overall productivity. The responsible thing to do would be to ban HFCS from American food production. If the FDA found that a chemical was poisoining people, they would ban it and have lots of times...how is HFCS any different? It's literally killing us, but the food lobby won't hear of banning it, because it makes food taste good. It's not just the public's responsibility to be educated about how they are being poisoned, it's government's responsibility to protect the public and regulate the corporations that would harm us to maximize their own profits. Even the sugar lobby is taking a stand and saying HFCS is not sugar! I agree banning super-size drinks is dumb, but banning HFCS is clearly one of the responsible actions our federal government need to take.
Deep Water August 15, 2012 at 04:20 PM
JoeEldersburg, the FDA can't ban a product just because it is overconsumed by some--even many--people. HFCS isn't inherently unsafe. It's that it's readily available in many packaged foods that people purchase and consume. If people didn't buy it, food manufacturers wouldn't use it--simple as that. You can blame the "big food lobby" all you want, but when it gets right down to it, nobody is being forced to buy those products. For all the talk about food deserts and lack of access to healthy foods, I can still go into the 7-11 and buy apples and oranges. McDonalds offeres salads. Healthy choices ARE available for most, but people still opt for the Extra Value Meal. I think there are a lot of factors at play here, but I primarily blame parents who buy this crap for their kids and teach them that it's a normal diet. When I was growing up in the 70s, my parents never bought chocolate, chips, soda or sugary breakfast cereals. Every once in a blue moon, there might be a carefully guarded bag of Doritos (my mother's weakness) in the pantry, and desert only happened on birthdays and holidays. Growing up this way didn't force me to love fruits or vegetables, but it did teach me that it's not normal to have a Big Gulp and a bag of chips every afternoon. I eat well and exercise regularly because I NEVER want to be one of those obese women with diabetes and high blood pressure who can barely walk because her knees and ankles hurt so badly from carrying all that extra weight.
Kathy August 15, 2012 at 06:41 PM
HFCS is not "dangerous" unless overconsumed - but one can overconsume anything--meat, milk, even carrots have been known to turn people orange. Too much of anything is bad for the body. (Even if companies started using real sugar instead these foods would be bad for us, they just wouldn't be as cheap.) The problem is that people don't realize how much of this stuff they are consuming. It is not for government to ban this--in limited doses it can even be helpful in preserving food, making it sweet less expensively, etc--but for consumers to read labels and try to avoid products that contain it. The only role I could see government having is to make sure that packages of food that contain HFCS are clearly labeled to warn consumers. Labels do exist now, but companies have started calling this stuff other things so that consumers don't realize what they are getting. But an outright ban is inappropriate.
Buck Harmon August 15, 2012 at 07:03 PM
The meats that you by result from cattle that are given hormones and antibiotics to make them grow and put on weight really fast for production and profit....most meat foods are pumped up with growth promoting chemicals. Genetically modified corn that you see growing all over this county also play a huge roll to the process of introducing growth hormone crap into our bodies. Think about it.... They spray the fields with chemicals strong enough to brown the fields out almost over night. They spray the fields with massive amounts of chemical fertilizer to make things grow super fast. They spray the fields with massive amounts of insecticide to ensure full crops. The fields get tons of fungicide. The corn gets processed into just about everything that you purchase at the grocery store, as well as the feed that the beef cattle and other high production farm animals consume.....then we feed it to our children in large doses every day. It's no wonder that the obesity problem seems to be out of control. The government promotes this kind of farming and food production on a grand scale to ensure that the chemical companies using massive amounts of petro chemical products are profitable. Our children are ultimately products of Monsanto...tough to escape it...
Buck Harmon August 15, 2012 at 07:04 PM
meats that you buy
mbry August 15, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Obesity as a problem nationwide, no matter where we rank according to CDC. I agree with the other reviewer that it is also a matter of personal choice what we do which includes what we choose to put in our mouths. It is not the governments job to regulate or even attempt to do so. That being said I think it is time we as a nation pay more attention to what is going in our mouths, and the mouths of our children. My youth was one of fast food and an an seemingly endless stream of non-nutritional snacks. Not a lifestyle I choose to pass on to my children.
Buck Harmon August 15, 2012 at 07:35 PM
The FDA is nothing more than a politically controlled illusion of safety with many, many shortfalls as a result of big corporate money influence at the top of the"food chain".
Deep Water August 15, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Seriously? You think it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that people are just plain eating more than they should? I suppose it's easier to blame it on faceless government and corporate entities rather than just being sensible about what--and how much--one chooses to eat.
Kathy August 15, 2012 at 11:03 PM
It is a combination--we eat too much and the food that we eat is unhealthy. I have seen studies that show that even our fresh food has only a fraction of the nutrients that it did 20 or 30 years ago, due to a lot of factors, including companies developing seeds that grown faster and cheaper, feeding animals crap instead of good grass and grain, over-farming the soil, etc. So we are eating more and getting less nutrition. Buying organic is expensive, growing our own is time-consuming (and for most people impossible), all we can do is try our best to avoid the fast food and processed food, buy organic when possible, eat less meat and more vegetables and whole grains, exercise, and hope for the best.
Buck Harmon August 16, 2012 at 01:29 AM
I'm not blaming a faceless government...just stating a few facts about where most of the food on the table really comes from. Eating too much and not getting enough exercise also add insult to injury. The government regulates the food that we eat...so a big part of the problem does come from allowing unhealthy items to hit the market.
JoeEldersburg August 17, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Kathy, as some have said, "hope is not a strategy!" The simple fact is that whether it's what goes into our food supply or the lower cost of eating unhealthy vs. healthy, it can and should be regulated better. It's not an attack on our freedoms for example, if junk food were taxed higher, so demand would be reduced or that incentives are created for manufacturers to produce healthier foods. If we are slowly killing ourselves with cheap HFCS, the fact that it's a legal substance is incosequential to the damage it's causing. To wit, mercury, lead, PCB's and red dye #2 were all legal too until they were taken out of our food supply I agree that we need better eating and exercising habits and educational levels also have been shown to have a huge influence on people's health. So let's give our less educated and less financially well off people, struggling with obesity a break by getting rid of a chemical that has no benefit but to increase the profits of food companies at the expense of our collective waistlines. The food companies can find something safer to make their food taste better that is less harmful to the public. It's really hard to argue that it's not our government's responsibility to help make this happen and to protect the public by regulating harmful chemicals like HFCS.

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