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Escambia Co. obesity rate increases

Alabama is the fifth heaviest state in the United States, according to the StateofObesity.org. As many as 36 percent of the population is considered obese. That number is up 25 percent since 1990. The epidemic of obesity has stretched far and wide into smaller towns, communities, and countries around the world. Where once it was considered a high-income problem, now low- and middle-income demographics are also being affected.

Dietspotlight conducted a two-year study on the men and women in Escambia County. Dietspotlight has been offering weight-loss and health resources for more than a decade. The data was freely given and anonymous, but enough was included to give the team a look inside how the growing obesity problem in Alabama looks from a county perspective.

In Escambia County, the average man who’s looking to lose weight weighs about 240 pounds and he has a body mass index (BMI) around 36. Women weigh roughly 214 pounds, but the average BMI is higher at 37. The difference between men and women, in terms of BMI, is a mere 5 percent, so it looks as though obesity is gender-neutral in Escambia.

The study found that the average resident of the county, as a whole, needs to lose more than 85 pounds. That’s 27 percent higher than the state average of 67 pounds and 46 percent higher than the country average of 59 pounds. Obesity is a problem for the state of Alabama, but the problem may be worse than originally thought in some counties.

Brewton’s Alabama-One Weight Loss Clinic Office Manager Ashley Lodge said she wasn’t surprised at all to find that Alabama is the fifth heaviest state in the nation. Lodge said majority of the issue comes from poor diets.

“People like to eat,” Lodge said. “In the South, everything is fried and fast food restaurants are at every corner. Also, when people go grocery shopping, they can buy Debbie cakes and other junk foods for cheap, so that makes it difficult for people to eat healthy.”

Lodge said Escambia County’s obesity issue has nothing to do with genetics or body types.

“I have the fat gene,” Lodge said. “I took a DNA test, and they found that I had it. Yet, I’m 50 years old and only 132 pounds, so it’s possible to get around that. Weight loss is 90 percent diet and 10 percent exercise.”

For more information about Dietspotlight’s study on Escambia County, go to statistics.dietspotlight.com/AL/Escambia/ .