Obesity is on the rise in America and the proof is right in our own backyard.
Binghamton is ranked as having the second-highest obesity rate in the nation.
Our Elyse Mickalonis spoke with local health experts about the results and what you can do to kick bad health habits.
BINGHAMTON -- A surprising statistic for the Southern Tier: the Binghamton metropolitan area had the nation's second-highest obesity rate in 2011, according to a national survey released on Monday by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
“My first thought was just shock,” said Alan Temes, PhD, Lecturer Health and Wellness Studies at BU. “When I think of obesity I think of southern states, and historically they’ve had the highest obesity rates in the country.”
In fact, the only area with a higher rate is McAllen, Texas, but some say the high rate here could have something to do with the layout of the land and the economy.
“It is a mix of rural and urban environments, which both of those extreme cases and don’t work for managing weight. In rural areas people don’t have a lot of access to food, in urban areas there are lots of convenience stores,” said Sarah Thompson, Health and Wellness Studies at BU.
Temes agreed, saying, “It’s a relatively depressed community, if you don’t have money you go for cheap foods, which are often junk foods.”
Stress and not getting enough sleep can also cause weight gain.
“We need 7-9 hours of sleep at night to get the hormones at the levels they need to be to reduce the risk of gaining weight,” said Thompson. “Psychological stress hormones cause us to store more fat which can lead to obesity or diabetes.”
Health experts say you don’t have to make any big changes. They can be simple, whether it's reading food labels or going on a walk.
“Little things, like stretching, marching in place, walking, even if it’s cold outside go out for 10 minutes or 15 minutes,” said Thompson.
Temes stressed the importance of healthier food options, saying, “Staples like rice, corn, tortillas, legumes, beans — high in protein.”
Thompson agreed, saying, “If you see something with thirteen ingredients in it and you don’t know what any of them are, don’t put it in your body.”
Small steps that can help ensure Binghamton doesn't find itself on the top of this particular list again.
Click here to read full study for New York State.