This is Not a Healthy Growth Curve

The most recent CDC numbers are depressing, showing an astronomical 75% of men and 67% of women currently struggling with their weight. Just when we think it can’t get any worse, it does. The figures break out to show nearly 40 percent of men and nearly 30 percent of women being overweight, and about 35 percent of men and nearly 37 percent of women being obese. This means only 25% of adult males and 33% of adult females still have a BMI in the normal range. That’s a lot of numbers, which you can clearly see in the graph here.

What’s even more concerning than these population totals, if we look within the range of people who are weight-challenged, is that the population is shifting from being “merely” overweight to being clinically obese. The trends show that people who were previously overweight are continuing to gain weight and move into the obese category, and people who were previously in the normal range are moving into the overweight zone.

And did you know that researchers have a category for people who are beyond regular obesity? It’s called Morbid Obesity, and it’s reserved for people with a BMI over 40, which translates into carrying roughly 100 or more pounds than recommended. That category has also grown — by a factor of 700% since 1962.

Carrying extra weight puts people at risk for a frightening range of medical problems, from diabetes to heart disease to cancer. It’s been widely predicted that if these trends hold, today’s generation of children will not live as long as their parents. And future generations will fare worse, with a reduced quality of life as they age, and of course, higher health care costs.

So what is going on? We are less active than previous generations, but not markedly so. But studies do show that the amount of available calories in the food supply began to climb dramatically in the early ‘80s, precisely when our weight began to climb. This is not an exercise problem, it’s a food problem. Unhealthy food made from inexpensive ingredients like corn syrup, refined starches, and cheap plant oils is both highly available, and attractively priced. Retailers know exactly where to place food to encourage impulse consumption, and value-sized servings and packaging have trained our eyes to be bigger than our ever-growing stomachs.

The frightening national obesity rate is not an exercise problem, it’s a food problem. Share on X

And the cruel irony of this state of affairs — in which a solution to your hunger pangs is always within arm’s reach — is these foods actually encourage more hunger pangs. Unhealthy foods digest quickly, and confuse your normal internal hunger signals, making you feel starved again long before your body actually needs more calories.
The only effective way to deal with our national weight problem is to eat differently and learn how to avoid the temptation that lurks at every turn.

Effecting change is a shared responsibility. Employers and HMOs need to make weight loss programs easier to access. Food manufacturers need to provide more healthy packaged options. Consumers need to buy — and eat — more healthy high fiber foods and non-starchy veggies. Doctors need to prescribe weight loss the same way they prescribe statins and blood pressure medications, and set a good example with their own weight so they are a credible source of information. The entire health care industry can learn more about good nutrition, and offer patients better advice than “lose a few pounds”. We can change this, but we have to work to make it work. Start by weighing yourself daily. Replace one processed food tomorrow with a piece of fruit. When you next have friends ‘round to supper, feed them something healthy and delicious. We can’t remake our lives overnight, but it is possible to change a lifetime of habits. We do this in iDiet programs every day.  If you need help, reach out to us. Consider sharing this with a friend. We want to work with you to make a better world.

To your health.

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