BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - People in Baton Rouge are fatter than most of the populous cities in the U.S., according to a Gallup and Healthways report released Thursday. The results are from a 2014 survey where researchers asked people information related to their individual body mass index.
Anyone with a BMI number over 30 was considered obese, which can sometimes be misleading.
"BMI is used as a gauge of how much body fat we have, and it's not a perfect tool, but it does give us a general sense of one's adiposity or body fat level," Corby Martin, Ph.D., Director of Pennington's Ingestive Behavior Laboratory.
More than a third of the people who responded in Baton Rouge, 35.9 percent, are obese. That is compared to 35.3 percent in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area and 34.1 percent in the Little Rock, Arkansas area. Colorado Springs, Colorado had the lowest obesity rate at 19.6 percent. The full report can be read
Researchers point to issues within communities with socioeconomic challenges.
Baton Rouge-based Pennington Biomedical Research Center is currently studying the problem of obesity with its DRIVE study which aims to help parents make better nutritional choices for their children. The program includes a free ‘house call' from a nutritionist. Information on how to sign up for the program can be found
"We tend to have among one of the highest rates in the nation," said Martin. "We have a very strong food culture here. We get a lot of rich high calorie food that is obviously very palatable, but can definitely pack on the pounds."
Jessica Watts signed up for the DRIVE study when doctors noticed her 5-year-old was starting to gain weight.
"We're just drinking a lot more water instead of juice and getting more exercise every day," Watts said. "If you could get a young kid to know the difference between a sugary drink and a healthy drink or learn that vegetables and fruits are healthier than french fries, you know that kind of a thing is a big deal."