Thin Competition: Skinniest States Show More Interest in Weight Loss Procedures

A. Foley on 14 Oct 2012 at 9:00am


When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its annual report this year, Colorado once again topped the rankings as the state with the lowest obesity rate at 20.7 percent. The highest obesity rate was reported in Mississippi, in which 34.9 percent of the population is obese.

Naturally, these findings piqued our interest and we wanted to see if search data supported that the heaviest states were most interested in bariatric surgery and other weight loss procedures.

Quite the contrary.

Proving that it may be relative to surroundings, the skinniest states actually showed more notable search increases and interest in popular procedures, like gastric bypass and liposuction. It makes sense when you consider the active lifestyle and health-conscious mentality that permeates the Colorado air. Would you be more concerned about being overweight around people of a similar weight, or standing next to those considered “skinny?” 

We checked in with our own RealSelf community and found many cited social cues as motivators, whether it’s to keep up with a certain lifestyle or to be confident and engage with peers:

  • “As the years progressed I felt myself getting bigger but had the whole attitude that if someone didn’t like me then they didn’t have to be my friend. I found myself not wanting to go out with my friends, or do everyday things with them such as shopping. I knew I could be happy and the only way to do that was to lose the weight.” – Shawnie Dee
  • “I'm a 46-yr old female who struggled all her life with a little fat always deposited in the same places (hips, thighs). I was a sprinter years ago, which allowed me to develop muscular legs but since I no longer spring (ha!) little bits of fat would happily occupy the former muscle space. I notice my butt sags (used to have well developed muscles) and to run the fat off was becoming a daily crazy challenge.” - JMS46

Here are the search data trends (comparing Q3 in 2011 and Q3 in 2012) for the lowest obesity rate state vs. the highest, as reported by the CDC:

Do you find this correlation surprising? Do you based your physical standards on what you see around you? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!