Despite significant challenges and factors affecting obesity, Maine ranks a respectable #23 on one list (there are several with slightly different rankings) of States with Fewest to Most Obese Residents.
Our obesity percentage is 28.4. We’re in the lower obesity rate half of the list! Another way to look at it is there are 27 states with a higher percentage of obesity than here in Maine. Even with the challenges, and despite Maine’s aging population (oldest in the country), I’d say we’re doing very well indeed!
What are the healthy weight challenges for people living in Maine?
1) Urban sprawl. There are few communities that allow for day-to-day living without needing to get into a car.
2) Narrow winding roads, many of which have big trucks with heavy loads (bottled water and lumber) using them daily. This limits access to safe places to walk.
3) The cost of living. Housing, gas, heating, and taxes are expensive in Maine. That puts a squeeze on the food budget. Inexpensive processed foods can be a convenient, cheaper way to feed a family and help save time and money.
4) Dark, long and cold winters. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We are mammals, after all, and winters are for hibernating. Not everybody in Maine has the disorder, but most of us slow down as the weather gets colder and turn to more sedentary (read: inside and warm) behaviors.
5) Older population, the median age of people living in Maine is 42.7. That’s an age when it gets hard to control weight. There are more people living in Maine than any other state who are entering or a within the “weight gaining ages of their 40s, 50s, and 60s.”
Despite the five factors that undermine achieving and sustaining a healthy weight in Maine, we are doing pretty well. I predict we will keep doing better.
Maine people are becoming more aware of these challenges. We are finding strategies to overcome them. We are learning to let go of the “all or nothing” thinking that stops us. Many are discovering all it takes are little lifestyle changes to support reaching and maintaining healthy weights.