Background. Morbidity and mortality related to overweight and obesity in the United States is high and has increased in recent years. In order to examine this issue, the Calhoun County Health Department measured height and weight to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI) for 2,045 students in third and sixth grades from public elementary and middle schools across the County (2012-2013 school year).
Overweight and Obesity in County residents. Of the students tested, the mean BMI was 20, and the mean age of students was 10. The breakdown of percentage of overweight or obese students by gender and grade is shown below.
Increasing numbers of students with above normal BMI as grade level increases is further supported by data on adult obesity and obesity-related deaths in the County.
Co-morbidities related to Obesity. Physical activity is defined by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS, 2012) as no activity in addition to daily life and work for the past 30 days and is shown, along with diabetes rates, for the state and Calhoun County in Figure 3, below. Inactivity and obesity are linked with higher risk of chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension and other co-morbid conditions related to obesity.
In 2013, death rates due to diabetes and hypertension (Figure 4) were higher among residents of Calhoun County than in either the state or nation. (Diabetes death rates by gender and hypertension death rates are shown in the Appendix of supplemental information.)
Summary. Beginning in elementary school, and peaking in middle adulthood, Calhoun County residents are more likely to be overweight or obese than the state of Michigan average for every age group. Diabetes diagnoses and deaths to county residents also exceed the Michigan state average, despite physical inactivity rates in the county equal to that of the state. Given this and the fact obesity is multifactorial, other causes, including nutrition, should be considered as areas of intervention likely to reduce rates of obesity and its related co-morbid conditions in the county.