Although the subject has slipped from the front page of the news, the fact that America is the most overweight country in the world continues to be a fact. Discussions on the news shows has become infrequent, and maybe that’s appropriate. The reasons given for our country’s weight gain were varied; few of them accurate. The worst of the all was when one doctor called obesity a disease. It is not. He could have called it a ‘condition,’ and that might have been more accurate. Obesity causes disease.
Perhaps one of the woeful examples of how the obesity problem continues to rise was given to us this week by Humanetics; a Michigan-based company which develops ‘crash test dummies.’ To allow for accurate testing, they have developed a more representative overall experiment. They have developed a new dummy which weighs a more realistic 273 pounds compared to the original at 170 pounds. It has a body mass index of 35.
The CDC released statistics reporting that more than one-third of all Americans are obese. According to the CDC an obese person weighs more than 203 pounds, and has a BMI of 30. It also estimates that the cost to our medical system is more than $147 million per year.
Obesity is a worldwide problem. Researchers have reported a 27.5 percent obesity increase in the last 33 years. The rate for adolescents and children was 47.1 percent.
The results of increased obesity are diseases such as high blood pressure, some types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Other non-life-threatening ailments are back, knee, and ankle pain.
Interesting and unexplained facts are that men with higher income are more likely to be obese, while the reverse is true with women. Education did not seem to be a factor with men, while college-educated women have a lower percentage of obesity.
The World Health Organization adopted an ambitious goal which they now admit is most likely unattainable. By 2025 they were hoping to see the increase in obesity end, and a reduction in numbers begin. To fight the problem they have been urging people all over the world to lower the calories they eat by consuming less fatty food and eat more fish, fruit and vegetables. They also encourage more exercise and less sedentary activities such as watching television and spending time on the computer. They requested cooperation by the food industry to cooperate by committing to less advertising of unhealthy foods which cause rapid weight gain. Very few complied with the appeal.
The WHO admits this may not be a war they can win. Fewer and fewer families eat food prepared in the home. Profits of ‘fast-food’ restaurants have increased indicating an increase in business. The varieties and quantities of frozen food on grocery shelves have grown. And ‘take-out’ food from a variety of restaurant types continues to rise.
The WHO also notes that although there are no statistics to prove whether or not physical activity is on the increase, they are not optimistic.
Many of the electronic tools we have become used to are of great value, but many are simply time wasters and increase the amount of time we sit instead of walk or run.
Change begins in the home. Today with all too many parents both working one or more jobs, a home routine is difficult to establish. Ensuring that there is ‘food in the refrigerator’ is all too frequently as much as they are able to accomplish.
However, the facts are there, and each family, each individual must find a solution. From 1980 to 2013, the number of obese individuals worldwide has increased for 857 million to 2.1 billion.
By James Turnage