Hey, Tri-City residents, you're fat.
Don't shoot the messenger -- we're just reporting the facts.
A recent national health poll ranked the Tri-Cities as the No. 9 most obese metro area in the United States.
And that is not something to be proud of.
We know that obesity is a huge health problem in the United States. But here in the Tri-Cities, we like to think we escape many of the more unfortunate national trends, like souring economies and natural disasters.
However, there's no escaping this one. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index compiled data from phone interviews with 350,000 adults in 190 metro areas. Pollsters asked participants their height and weight, and then calculated their body mass index (BMI). The BMI has been used for years to assess weight and corresponding health risks.
If your BMI is 30 or higher, you're considered obese. Some examples: a 5-foot-4-inch woman weighing 174 pounds or a 5-foot-10 man weighing 209 would have a BMI of 30. That means obese.
Poll results show that 33.2 percent of Tri-Citians fit into that category, although probably not into a pair of skinny jeans.
We do appreciate the honesty of Tri-Citians in reporting their fatness. Some of us may have shaved a few pounds off for vanity's sake if we had gotten the survey call.
You want to know what your BMI is now, don't you? Do you fall into the 30 or higher BMI category? Are you part of the problem?
Do a quick Google search and you'll find several BMI calculators that will give you an approximate range and tell you whether your weight is in the normal range or if you're obese.
If you hit 30 BMI, here's the kind of warning you may receive:
"(Obese Class 1) Individuals with a BMI of 30-34.99 are in a physically unhealthy condition, which puts them at risk for serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease and some cancers. This holds especially true if you have a larger than recommended waist size. These people would benefit greatly by modifying their lifestyle. Ideally, see your doctor and consider reducing your weight by 5-10 percent. Such a weight reduction will result in considerable health improvements." (That information is courtesy of bmi-calculator.net.)
Of course, the BMI figure is not perfect. We all know that muscle weighs more than fat. And someone could be muscular and lean but end up in the obese category. For more precise indicators, there are additional measures you can use like body fat or waist-to-hip calculators in conjunction with the BMI.
If it wasn't bad enough to learn that we're one of the most obese communities in the nation, a headline from the Yakima Herald-Republic, which ranked 11th in the survey, boasted: "We're fat, but the Tri-Cities is fatter." If nothing else motivates you to get out there and burn some calories, that show of disrespect from up the valley ought to do it.
Silliness aside, obesity is a serious issue and has a direct effect on our community's health and its health care system.
Opportunities abound in the Tri-Cities for exercise, along with weight loss programs and support networks for those struggling with obesity. All of the hospitals offer programs and we have an abundance of health clubs with reasonable rates.
If you're not into sharing your journey, the internet is a wealth of information, with everything from free calorie calculators to customized workout and meal programs to weight loss journals.
Spring is just around the corner and there's no better time than now to start working your way to better health.
If you aren't motivated to do it for yourself, do it for the honor of your community. Don't take Yakima's insult lying down!