Analyzing data on antibiotic use in 2010 among adult Americans, researcher Lauri A. Hicks, who also works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, expected to find higher antibiotic use in states with higher elderly populations, such as Florida.
Yet when she
looked at the data, that wasn't the case: Antibiotic use was only average among Floridians.
found that states that had the most antibiotic use included certain southern states, such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
After examining the data, however, Hicks
discovered something even more strange: Higher rates of antibiotic use occurred in states with the highest obesity rates.
, this couldn't just be a coincidence-it had to mean the two factors were related.
"There might be reasons that more obese people need antibiotics," says Hicks
"But it also could be that antibiotic use is leading to obesity."
To further prove her
says that prescribing rates for antibiotics around the world vary widely, with Europeans using less antibiotics than Americans.
Sweden, for instance, uses antibiotics only 53 percent as much as Americans, and boasts one of the lowest obesity rates in the world, only outmatched by Korea, Japan, and Norway.
In contrast, the United States has one of the highest obesity rates worldwide-and that number continues to increase.
"Prescribing rates for outpatient antibiotics vary markedly, not only within the United States, but also around the world," says Hicks