Arkansas’ population among the heaviest in the country

by George Jared ([email protected]) 1,520 views 

Arkansas has the fourth most overweight and obese adult populous among all states, according to a new Wallethub survey. The Natural State is only outranked in the survey by Mississippi, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

About 70% of the adult population in the U.S. is considered overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Americans spend $68 billion on methods to lose weight each year, and more than $200 billion is spent in the U.S. annually on healthcare issues relating to obesity.

Nearly 35% of Arkansans are overweight, and 36% are obese, according to the CDC. Excess calorie intake, and a lack of physical activity are the two primary contributors. Less than half of the state’s adult population eats a fruit or vegetable daily, and only 41% get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Personal trainer and fitness expert Suzette Baker told Talk Business & Politics there are several methods people can use to improve their health and reduce their weight.

“The first thing I do with new clients is a thorough assessment of their nutrition and activity levels,” she said.

About one in five Americans have a gym membership, and on average it costs about $55 per month. Personal trainers can cost as little as $30 to $40 per session in Arkansas, but some can range as high as $60-$70 per session depending on the type of training and the duration, according to Thumbtack. The national average is $50 per session.

About 70% of a person’s weight is determined by diet, and the other 30% is tied to exercise, Baker said. A common mistake many people make in their diet is not consuming enough protein. A healthy adult should consume about one gram of protein, per pound of their optimal healthy weight. Protein burns more calories during digestion, helps with appetite control, and aids in the construction of lean muscles. All of that leads to a higher metabolic rate, the key to controlling blood sugar levels and weight. New research indicates its nearly impossible to gain weight from protein, she said.

Proper consumption of carbohydrates is another critical element in nutrition. Adults should consume one to three grams of carbs per pound based on their activity level, she said. A healthy person should consume around 15 calories per pound. Macro nutrients, those acquired through food consumption, and micro nutrients, ones acquired through supplements and vitamins have to be balanced, she said. There is little room in a person’s diet for low nutrient foods if these diet targets are met each day.

“It’s all in a person’s diet,” she said. “Food is life.”

Another myth is that skipping meals will equate to shedding pounds. It’s not true, Baker said. When you miss a meal, your body goes into storage mode, meaning it will store more carbs as fat when you do finally eat. Good fats such olive and coconut oil are also part of any healthy meal plan.

Personal trainer Suzette Baker

“Too much of anything can be bad. … You can eat what you want, but in moderation,” she said.

An exercise routine is a critical to a healthy lifestyle. Adults should regularly exercise at least three to four time per week. Another common mistake made especially by women is not lifting weights, she said. Aerobic, or cardio exercise will impact your metabolic rate for about an hour after the exercise is complete. Weight training can impact a person’s metabolic rate for up to 72 hours after the exercise is completed. Women are often afraid they will look too muscular, but light weight training is part of a healthy exercise regime.

Light weights with high reps can carve out lean, calorie burning muscles. Men often make the mistake of lifting heavier weights, losing form. A challenging weight, not one too heavy should be used. Using the right weight will lessen the chance of injuries, and it will save wear and tear on joints and ligaments.

The survey had more grim news for Arkansans. It has the second highest number of inactive adults and those with high cholesterol. The state was also ranked fourth in type 2 diabetes rates. The survey used overweight and obesity statistics, heart disease rates, the number of type two diabetics, projected future obesity weights, life expectancy, fitness, nutrition levels, and other criteria to create its survey.

Employers have promoted wellness programs for their employees for the last several years. Companies spend about $6 billion on wellness programs each year, according to research by the Rand Corporation. Those can include gym membership discounts, disease prevention programs, incentives to lose weight, and others. Disease and lifestyle management programs offer employers $45 per employee, per month return on investment. Those savings are gleaned from better productivity, less days missed due to illlness, better health insurance rates, and others. Cash incentives for meeting biometric targets. Those targets can include blood pressure rates, body composition analysis, blood glucose levels, and others.

Baker, who has been in the fitness business for more than 16 years, recently won the Memphis Muscle Showdown master figure competition and received her professional card. A person can lose one to two pounds per week with a healthy diet and exercise. There are not shortcuts; a diligent dietary and exercise routine is the key.

“You can make small changes that will make a big difference in your health,” she said.