Score a big one for Massachusetts. The state has the third-lowest obesity rate in the nation — behind fitness-obsessed Colorado and surfing-weather-all-year-round Hawaii, according to 2011 data issued last week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In previous years, the state ranked lower compared with other states such as Connecticut.
The state’s obesity rate for 2011 — 22.7 percent — is nearly one percentage point lower than in 2010 and nearly one percentage point higher than in 2009. But that may not be indicative of any real changes in obesity levels. The CDC tweaked the survey’s methodology this year to get a more accurate reading.
Researchers now have the ability to contact homes where residents have only cellphones to ask questions about their weight and overall state of health. There is clearly some under-reporting though. The CDC states that the national obesity rate hovers at nearly 36 percent — based on body mass index measurements reported by doctors — yet the national average for obesity in the survey data (based on individuals reporting their weight status) was about 27 percent.
The possible underreporting of obesity among survey respondents is not too surprising. A 2010 study found that today’s overweight Americans are less likely to classify themselves as having a weight problem compared with their counterparts 20 years ago.