Obesity Epidemic Explained – Kind Of

Posted on July 5, 2007  Comments (8)

chart showing obesity by country

Graphic: percentage of population over 15 with a body-mass index greater than 30, for more see Wellington Grey

Obesity Epidemic Explained – Kind Of

So maybe everyone else already knew this and I am like, bumpkin girl, but I just have to take a moment and point everyone to this USDA research site on the massive inflationary trend in daily caloric consumption over the past three decades.

1970 – Americans ate an average of 2170 calories per day
2000 – Americans ate an average of 2700 calories per day

I don’t think most people know that. It does seem odd to me that so much effort is put into trying to come up with explanations that are much more complicated. Most of the complicated suggestions (usually some explanation that indicates it is some biology issue and not eating to much or exercising too little) don’t explain why there is an increase in the incidence of obesity over time – at least I don’t see how they do. It seems to me the base requirement for improving the health issue of increasing obesity is to have an explanation of what has caused the incredible increase.

I can certainly believe biological issues impact how easy it is to become obese or how difficult it is to maintain a healthy weight. But it seems to me the proportion of the population that is obese has drastically increased over time (or different regions of the globe with a similar genetic makeup) and the logical place to look for an explanation is behavior differences that created this change (not some biological issue that has changed). If 5% of the population was predisposed obesity in 1950 to obesity I can’t see any rational reason to think that has increased to 30% today.

Related: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.CDC on ObesityChemicals May Play Role in Rise in ObesityDrinking Soda and ObesityTreadmill Desks$500 Million to Reduce Childhood Obesity in USAFood Health Policy Blog

Obesity (Purdue University, June 2004):

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 64 percent of adults and 30 percent of children are either overweight or obese—double the amount of 20 years ago. Health-care costs related to obesity are a staggering $117 billion annually.

Weight- and fitness-related conditions are the second-leading cause of death in the United States, resulting in about 300,000 deaths each year. If current trends continue, obesity will surpass smoking as the nation’s leading cause of preventable death.

8 Responses to “Obesity Epidemic Explained – Kind Of”

  1. Grey
    July 5th, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

    Thank you for linking to my site.


  2. kevin
    July 7th, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

    Our consumption is out of control, but I don’t get why people blame restaurants for that..

  3. Nancy Henley
    August 22nd, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

    When is someone going to make the food industry remove all the sugars which are not necessary in the foods
    most people and especially children are fed regularly such as frozen foods and snacks?

  4. CuriousCat: High Fructose Corn Syrup is Not Natural Food
    April 3rd, 2008 @ 10:46 am

    “High fructose corn syrup cannot be considered natural because its chemical bonds are broken and rearranged in the manufacturing process…”

  5. CuriousCat: The Diet Delusion
    June 7th, 2008 @ 8:19 am

    “We are not thermodynamic black boxes; we are biological organisms and we have evolved complex systems of hormones and enzymes and proteins. That’s how we are regulated…”

  6. Curious Cat Science Blog » Active Amish Avoid Obesity
    September 10th, 2008 @ 8:29 am

    “Four years ago we discovered that the Amish maintained super-low obesity levels despite eating a diet high in fat, calories and refined sugar. They key was their level of physical activity — men averaged 18,000 steps a day, women 14,000. That’s monumental compared to the paltry couple of thousand or so most of us eke out in a day…”

  7. Neha
    August 26th, 2009 @ 12:26 am

    India is at the brink of an obesity epidemic among its middle class and upper class. Unlike the US, its not because of large servings. Its because the people are not active, prone to belly fat and the government has lowered obesity standards. Read this for more.

  8. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Shrink Serving Sizes
    November 8th, 2010 @ 9:18 am

    […] serving sizes is a good idea. Increasing serving sizes over the last few decades is one of the big problems in the USA’s obesity epidemic. From a problem solving approach another good idea is to look beyond the problem at the larger […]

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