Article by Zak Koeske
Obesity rates for New Jersey men and women have climbed steadily over the past decade, with nearly one-third of all residents classified as obese in 2011, up from roughly one-quarter of residents in 2001, according to the latest available data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Within the Garden State, a stark geographical divide in obesity rates exists between North and South Jerseyans, with South Jersey residents taking the cake — and apparently eating it too.
Salem and Cumberland counties, where more than 40 percent of residents were obese in 2011, have the highest obesity rates in the state, while Hunterdon and Bergen counties had the lowest percentage of obese residents in 2011.
No counties in the state were immune from the county's growing obesity epidemic, as all experienced at least a 3.7 percentage point increase in their number of obese residents.
Broken down by gender, the percentage of New Jersey men who are obese now exceeds the number of obese women living in the state. From 2001 to 2011, the prevalence of obesity has increased by 7.7 percentage points among New Jersey men and 5.9 percentage points among New Jersey women.
Compared to other states, men (32.6 percent) and women (32.2 percent) in New Jersey are slightly slimmer than the national obesity average of 35.7 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The map above breaks down obesity figures by county using data obtained from a recent study conducted at the University of Washington that found nationwide women are more obese than their male counterparts.
Obesity is calculated by measuring a person’s height and weight, and deriving at a ratio called the body mass index, or BMI. This number often correlates to an individual’s amount of body fat, and is used to ascertain whether a person is considered underweight, a normal weight, overweight or obese.
Obese individuals have a 50 to 100% increased risk of premature death, and it’s estimated that obesity may be the cause of 300,000 deaths per year, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.