WalletHub — the finance website that has become something of a central data cruncher for all sorts of statistics ranking states and cities on things like education and public safety — recently released its breakdown of how states compare in terms of obesity.
The increase in obesity among Americans has been well-publicized, of course. As recently as late September, for instance, the Washington Post reported that for the first time, all 50 states sport obesity rates greater than 20 percent.
But people can gain weight for a variety of reasons, and what’s interesting about the WalletHub study is that it dives into a range of contributing factors and resultant conditions as well.
It’s easy enough to take all the states’ relative obesity rates and rank them, but this goes a step further, looking also at the less severe “overweight” numbers as well as a prevalent lifestyle choices and respective consequences to arrive at an overall rating for each state.
To be clear, WalletHub is a broad-brush data analysis site — it doesn’t claim to investigate every nuance of every state, so sometimes these statistical rankings don’t consider local details that may skew numbers or cast them in a different light.
Some states simply do better jobs than others reporting health data, for instance, so those states may show higher rates of one ailment or another without actually having abnormally high rates.
So it’s probably safest to consider WalletHub a good conversation starter, not a definitive authority on any particular subject.
That said, its obesity number crunch is worth looking at. While Maine is around the middle of the pack overall — No. 24 among 50 states and Washington, D.C. — it spikes to the top in one troubling metric: Cholesterol problems.
WalletHub found that Maine has a higher percentage of residents with high cholesterol than any other state.
At least one report by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention placed that number at 39 percent — so about two out of every five Mainers has high cholesterol.
The national average is less than 32 percent, in comparison.
As the man in the video above explains, high cholesterol can cause plaque-like buildups in the arteries, leading to heart attacks or strokes. And sure enough, CBS News reports that Maine has among the country’s highest rates of heart disease, as well.
Perhaps the good news is that Mainers are working on it: The same WalletHub study that highlighted Maine’s cholesterol problem also found people here are good about eating their vegetables.
And shifting away from animal-based foods is among the most commonly cited ways to reduce or control cholesterol.