Posted by: Chris Maloney | July 8, 2011

F is For Fat: Our Obesity Epidemic And What To Do.

Cover of "What I Eat: Around the World in...

Cover via Amazon

Well, the new obesity report card is out.  They gave us all an F.  What is truly appalling is the number of children who are already obese.  In colored graphics we get to see our future going down the tubes. 

Of course, the articles are pouring out about how terrible this is.  But even those reporting fail to really address the issue.  They have a ten point plan for many things, but I only saw “eat less and exercise more” as a cure. 

If you haven’t noticed, that ship has sailed.  The most eye-opening book I’ve read recently (and reread, and correlated BMIs) is What I Eat:  Around the World in 80 Diets.  NPR did a nice write-up about them, but it can’t capture the breadth of the book.   The key piece of information  that the book gets across is that calories do not matter and pretty much we’re the fattest people on the planet. 

There are a few no-brainers.  Of course the bike messenger can eat like a horse and still be underweight.  But the monk?  The voice teacher?  When you do the BMIs in this book (BMI is weight to height), we would expect increasing BMI with increasing calories.  Instead it’s pretty much a linear graph, with the sumo wrestler, a couple of truck drivers, and the Americans falling in the obese category.  Oh, and the 12,000 calorie snacker.  She came back with a 38 BMI.  Of  course, you say.  But the artic hunter eats 6500 calories and has a BMI of 25.  We see individuals across the world eating a variety of diets with a variety of caloric intakes and remaining healthy BMIs.  Something is very, very wrong in the U.S., but it isn’t just that we can’t put our forks down. 

Our children are obese.  Growing kids who are literally processing calories for the use in bone and sinew are managing to pack on the calories to the point where they sway into obesity.  Is it simply that they are more sedentary?  Really?  More sedentary than the book’s war veterans, one of whom is wheel chair bound?  Neither one of them is overweight?  Is it that they are eating terribly, worse than the book’s Mall employee who eats all her meals at the mall?  She’s not overweight. 

It doesn’t make sense.  Something is generating obesity at a tremendous rate in the U.S.  When you look at the CDC data we are eating about the same and exercising slightly more than we did a few years ago.  But we’re getting bigger far faster.  We need to expand our search to at least hormonal disruption and stress response.


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