Texas is the 11th most overweight state in America because of its teenagers, according to a new study by WalletHub.
WalletHub’s 2021 Most Overweight & Obese States found that the Lone Star state has the seventh–highest share of overweight teenagers at 17.8%.
“The fact that it is ranked among the top 15 means Texas is one of the states where obesity persists dangerously,” said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. “This is a serious health concern across the U.S., and Texas is one of the states where the problem is more prominent.”
Other factors that contribute to the state’s ranking include the fifth largest percentage of adults with high cholesterol at 32.2%, a large share of adults with type 2 diabetes at 13%, and the fact that there is no health insurance coverage for nutritional counseling.
“Being overweight or obese has a series of negative health consequences,” Gonzalez told Dallas Express. “Some of these include high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and even cancer and strokes. Obesity has a negative impact on the economy because it brings additional costs to the healthcare system.”
The top 10 states are all Southern except Delaware, including Louisiana, South Carolina, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Arkansas.
“All the Southern states that rank in the top ten have a high obesity and overweight prevalence,” Gonzalez said in an interview. “This representation would indicate that people in the south are not eating as healthy and may not have easy access to healthy food options. It also means that people work out less, or are not physically active in any way, and have more health problems.”
The District of Columbia (D.C.) and Utah landed among the lowest states for obesity because of their low share of obese children and some of the lowest 2030 projected obesity rates.
“To rank lower, Texas would need to decrease overweight prevalence among its teenagers and adults by lowering the number of fast-food restaurants and having more healthy food options in middle and high schools,” Gonzalez said. “The state should also encourage more physical activity among children and teenagers, and include nutritional counseling as part of health insurance coverage.”
According to this study, Texas has the highest number of fast-food restaurants per capita, a low share of middle and high schools offering salad bars at 27.7%, the second–largest share of physically inactive children and teenagers at 13.5%, and the 11th highest percentage of physical inactivity among adults at 25.4%.
The CDC defines overweight as having a BMI between 25 – 29.9 and defines obese as having a BMI between 30 – 99.8.
“To find out if they are overweight or obese, people need to determine their BMI or body mass index,” Gonzalez said. “This is calculated as the body mass divided by the square of the body height. If the BMI is between 25 – 29.9 you are overweight, and if it is 30 or above, you are obese.”
WalletHub further found that sugary drinks play a role in the problem of obesity in Texas. Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among adolescents in Texas is the 11th highest nationwide, with 19.5% of students in grades 9-12 drinking soda at least once a day.
“To lose weight, people need to eat healthy and regular meals while also being physically active,” Gonzalez added. “Getting nutritional counseling is a great way to learn how you should change your eating habits and what you should be eating to keep yourself healthy and have a normal weight.”