The Healthy Weight Disparity Index: Why We Need It to Solve the Obesity Crisis


Objective. This study assessed the usefulness of the Healthy Weight Disparity Index (HWDI) to evaluate income disparities related to obesity. We compared state based body mass index (BMI) rankings with HWDI rankings. Methods. National data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System were used to estimate mean BMI levels in each of the 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.) by income level. Income-related disparities were described with the HWDI. Kappa statistics analyzed the concordance between the two rankings. Results. State-based BMI and the HWDI rankings were not concordant. For example, Washington, D.C. was ninth for lowest mean BMI yet ranked 49th on the HWDI. West Virginia ranked 42nd and 5th, and Mississippi ranked 51st on both the BMI and HWDI, respectively. Discussion. State-based BMI and HWDI rankings present divergent perspectives on the obesity crisis. We recommend adding HWDI rankings to BMI rankings to reflect fully patterns of obesity and subgroup differences.