What does this measure?
The percentage of adults who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 25. The index is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight. A person with a BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight, and those with a BMI over 30 are considered obese.
Why is this important?
Being overweight or obese puts a person at greater risk for a wide variety of serious health problems. Obesity is recognized as a national problem that has grown tremendously over the last three decades, contributing to increases in medical expenditures for treatment of related diseases.
How is our county doing?
In 2012-14, 63% of Essex County residents were considered overweight or obese. This was a bit higher than the state rate of 59%. The highest rates for overweight or obese can be found in Lawrence (68%), Lynn (67%), and Haverhill and Middleton (both at 65%), while the lowest were in Georgetown (51%), North Andover (52%), and Newburyport, Beverly and Essex (all at 53%).
How do we compare to similar counties?
In 2012-14, the rate in Essex County was 9 percentage points higher than Middlesex, MA (54%). Figures for Lake, IL and Westchester, NY were not available.
Notes about the data
Data come from a federal government survey designed to collect scientific data on health risks and behaviors. Respondents were asked for their height and weight for a computation of Body Mass Index.
Beginning in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control made two changes to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System on which this indicator is based. The survey now includes cell-phone users, and a new statistical method is used to weight responses. As a result, changes from 2010 to 2011 may be a result of those technical changes rather than true trends.