The 29 Mar 07 Wall Street Journal reports World Health Organization (WHO) figures that indicate obesity is only getting worse in the States, and around the world. Estimated obesity rates for people aged 15 and older have grown since 2002:
- United States. 2002: 34.9%. 2005: 39.2%.
- UK. 2002: 20.0%. 2005: 22.9%
- Germany. 2002: 19.5%. 2005: 20.7%.
- France. 2002: 6.6%. 2005: 7.2%.
- China. 2002: 1.3%. 2005: 1.7%.
- Japan. 2002: 1.5%. 2005: 1.6%.
As you may recall, I’ve lived in Japan and as I’ve argued previously, it’s no surprise that with the deeply engrained eating habits that culture has, no one is obese. Upon my return to the States after several years in Japan, the culture shock was in some ways greater than when I left: T.G.I. Friday’s, Don Pablo’s, Outback, are only a handful of the “typical” mainstream American cuisine that lard-up Americans’ vessels and set them inexorably on the path of chunkiness.
I’ve heard many similar comments from others who’ve spent time overseas, whether in the military service or on private business, and who have partaken eagerly in the different culinary lifestyle over there. American food is greasy, greasy, greasy, and aside from Russian cuisine, one of the unhealthiest “cultural” eating “habits” there is.
The 2005 results of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey are also probably unsurpising, reflecting 2005 U.S. obesity rates in the map below:
Southern states, known as states with particularly unhealthy eating habits, exhibit the highest rates of obesity. Homes of hearty but lardy cuisine, Louisiana (Jambalaya, fried Beignets), and Mississippi (Southern Fried Chicken, Fried Green Tomatoes, Mississippi Mud Cake), along with West Virginia, are the worst, with 30 – 34% of the population obese. In short, for a 5’9″ person, 203 lbs or a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher would be obese; the CDC website further defines “obese” for those of you who aren’t sure whether you, or someone you care about, falls into the category.
Bottom line, this reflects badly on Americans and as nearly 1/3 of Americans are obese and the number continues to grow, accoriding to the 2005 WHO study, Americans as a society need to have a conversation about what we need to teach our children about food and exercise, and what we need to do about this health epidemic. Obesity is tied to individual mobility and worker productivity, longevity, strain on the nation’s health care system, and numerous other factors that have inevitable impact on the nation’s economy. Apart from being a moral issue, this is a serious societal issue that needs to be addressed quickly.
After watching the critically important An Inconvenient Truth, grab another hot issue and teach yourself about this scourge that’s afflicting 1 in 3 Americans.
“Gymnastic for the body, and philosophy for the soul.” Socrates.