Turtles Tale

I took a walk along the Scioto Mile this afternoon and was pleased to see a row of painted turtles sunning themselves atop some cutoff stumps along the river’s eastern shoreline. There originally were turtles on virtually every one of the small outcroppings in the water, but by the time I got into a position to take the photograph above a number of the terrapins had slid off their perches into the water, and only three of the turtles remained.

I don’t believe I’ve seen turtles in the Scioto River before, and I took it as a good sign that the river’s overall health continues to improve. Studies indicate that freshwater turtles can play an important role in maintaining and improving the health of rivers, because turtles are scavengers and help to remove fish carcasses and other edible debris that might otherwise harm the quality of river water.

I like turtles, and I look forward to seeing more of them in my walks along the Scioto. I hope the presence of turtles means the fish population in the river is growing as well.

The Most Obese States List

U.S. News and World Report has made a living off of ranking things, although recently it’s gotten some significant pushback from law schools and colleges about the choice of the data used to compile the rankings. Rankings seem to sell a lot of magazines. So, it’s not surprising that the publication would continue to focus on ranking, but this time with a new, and potentially less controversial, subject: obesity of adults in the 50 states.

The obesity ranking is taken from the public health evaluation that was part of a broader ranking of the 50 states by U.S. News and World Report. To do its public health analysis, U.S. News looked at CDC state-by-state data in six areas: mortality rate, obesity rate, suicide rate, smoking rate, mental health, and infant mortality rate. The obesity rate uses the body mass index (BMI) measurement of obesity, which is calculated by taking weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of height in meters. It should be pointed out that the BMI is a rough measurement of obesity, and some strongly question its value.

Obviously, the list of the most obese states is not one you want to be on. I’m happy to report that Ohio doesn’t make the top five. Our neighboring state, West Virginia, has the highest adult obesity rate, coming in at a staggering 40.7 percent. It is followed in the top five by Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. Regrettably, Ohio comes in at no. 9 on the list, with an adult obesity rate of 37.5 percent.

Is there significant value in ranking states based on the amount of adult obesity, using a debatable measurement like the BMI? No doubt some people will argue that such a ranking is a form of improper body shaming, and people’s weight and appearance is nobody’s business but their own. There is no doubt, however, that obesity has significant health consequences. If you are about public health, you have to care about obesity. If the U.S. News rankings get people to focus on that, it is performing a public service.