The World Health Organization (WHO) released a report noting that 33% of American adults were obese in 2008 and 69.4% were overweight. By 2010 the number is a shocking 80% of American adult men and 77% of women are overweight.
For many of us, this news really isn’t as shocking. America has continued to allow food choices (note I did NOT write health choices) to be determined primarily by a limited number of large scale corporations. Our system isn’t designed to provide health, it’s designed to make money. Welcome to Obesity – the new epidemic.
And worse, now we’re exporting this great-American food intake and it’s by-product, obesity to other countries!According to the same report, Saudi Arabia, other Arab states, Mexico, and many Pacific island nations have more obesity than the United States. Current estimates put obesity and overweight rates at 45% of Chinese men and 32% for women. Obviously traditional diets are going by the wayside in favor of the Standard American Diet of processed foods.But first, I want to address those that will criticize. Yes, medical intervention has changed most of the world. Two hundred years ago the leading causes of death in the United States were pneumonia, tuberculosis, and childhood diarrhea. As medical advances “cured” these issues our leading killers are now heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Again, we have exported these “cures” to other parts of the world as well. The top five risk factors for death worldwide are now high blood pressure, tobacco use, raised blood sugar, physical inactivity, and (you guessed it) obesity! Note that these are “diseases” that are completely within our ability to control – reduce stress, don’t smoke, limit sugars, get off the couch, and choose your foods wisely with appropriate portions!
Worse, these “diseases” include extreme health care costs. Obesity alone accounts for approximately $150 billion a year in health care spending in the United States.
Obesity in Other Countries
So, here’s the rub . . . most nations aren’t starving any longer. Food is mostly available, but good nutrition (healthy foods with good calories) aren’t the choices people are making. Which is helping lead to obesity. And many people aren’t making good choices because they just don’t understand. For example – just because an Oreo cookie is vegan doesn’t make it a good food choice! It contains canola oil, soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, and they’re not even required to disclose if the oil is hydrogenated.
Here’s some of the solutions other countries are using to combat obesity:
- Japanese companies require annual physicals including waistline measurements (men over 33.5 inches and women over 35.4 inches count against the company). Too much obesity means the company has to pay more to public health care.
- Many countries now tax soft drinks and other sugary beverages. Mexico just introduced a bill that would add a 20% tax to these products.
I’m not saying that America should start taxing anything. And, I’m not against the free-enterprise system. But we are in the middle of a health care crisis that seems to be getting bigger rather than smaller; obesity hasn’t decreased. And it’s time for people to start getting educated about the foods they put into their mouths.
It’s interesting to me that as we’ve followed more “science” – think the health benefits of hydrogenated fats over traditional oils like coconut, isolated soy protein and factory farmed animals instead of pasture raised animals, processed low-fat foods over whole full-fat foods, genetically modified foods to withstand pesticide spraying rather than pulling weeds, etc. – we’ve continued to decrease our health and increased obesity rates.
Sure, we’ve “made” some amazing, new, long-lasting, cheap products, but that doesn’t mean they are healthy! Time is definitely showing the world the truth, as the world continues to spread around the middle.