Have you noticed how in old television shows from the 1960s, ’70s, and even ’80s, everyone looks thin?
Americans are too fat. Despite that, we are getting fatter.
A new study warns that at the rate we’re going, in 18 years, by the year 2030, more than 4 of every 10 (42%) Americans may become obese and 11% could be severely obese.
Obesity is more than being over weight. These terms are defined by the body mass index (BMI), a measurement that is closely related to both percentage body fat and total body fat:
- “Normal weight” means a BMI of 18.5–24.9
- “Over weight” means a BMI of 25.0–29.9
- “Obesity” means a BMI of 30.0–34.9
- “Severe obesity” means a BMI of 35.0–39.9
- “Morbid obesity” means a BMI of 40 or over
BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s mass (weight) by the square of his or her height, typically expressed either in metric or US “customary” units of lbs. and inches. This is the formula:
BMI = mass (lb) ÷ (height in inches)² x 703
There’s an easier way to calculate your BMI. Click here!
Nanci Hellmich reports for USA Today, May 7, 2012, that the obesity rate was relatively stable in the USA between 1960 and 1980, when about 15% of people fell into the category. It increased dramatically in the ’80s and ’90s and was up to 32% in 2000 and 36% in 2010, according to CDC data.
As of 2010, more than 1 of every 3 U.S. adults (about 36%) were obese, which is roughly 30 pounds over a healthy weight, and 6% were severely obese, which is 100 or more pounds over a healthy weight. Those percentages qualify as an epidemic.
According to CDC data, in 2010, the South has the highest prevalence of obesity (29.4%) followed by the Midwest (28.7%), Northeast (24.9%) and the West (24.1%). Mississippi has the highest obesity rate of all 50 states, at 34%. Colorado has the lowest obesity rate, at 21%.
Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest rates of obesity (44.1%) compared with Mexican Americans (39.3%), all Hispanics (37.9%) and non-Hispanic whites (32.6%).
Between 1988–1994 and 2007–2008 the prevalence of obesity increased in adults at all income and education levels
According to a new study led by Eric Finkelstein, a health economist with Duke University Global Health Institute, 42% of Americans may end up obese by 2030, and 11% could be severely obese, adding billions of dollars to health care costs. That means 32 million more obese people within two decades, on top of the almost 78 million people who were already obese in 2010.
The analysis was presented at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Weight of the Nation” meeting. The study is being published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Extra weight takes a huge toll on health, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, many types of cancer, sleep apnea and other debilitating and chronic illnesses. (Read more on obesity-associated morbidity here.)
The latest finding is that obesity also increases the risk of senile dementia! A new study published in the journal Neurology found that people who are obese in middle age are at almost four times greater risk of developing dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease in later life than people of normal weight.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that medical-related costs of obesity may be as high as $147 billion a year, or roughly 9% of medical expenditures. An obese person costs an average of $1,400 more in medical expenses a year than someone who is at a healthy weight, they found. Other researchers have estimated the costs may be even higher.
If the obesity rate stays at 2010 levels instead of rising to 42% as predicted, then the country could save more than $549.5 billion in weight-related medical expenditures between now and 2030, says study co-author Trogdon.
More than medical costs, obesity-related heath problems also mean a reduced life expectancy. Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide. On average, obesity reduces life expectancy by six to seven years: a BMI of 30–35 reduces life expectancy by two to four years, while severe obesity (BMI > 40) reduces life expectancy by 10 years.
photo by Fiona Hanson/PA
But there is yet another reason for us NOT to be obese:
Obesity is an offense against God who made us in His own image.
The following is taken from an essay, “Food Is Sacred,” written by Fr. Joseph Illo, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Modesto, California, May 8, 2012:
“Supersize it.” If one, six-dollar burger is good, two is better, and best of all when they are on sale, two for ten dollars! We love to eat. [...] Food is essential for human life. But why, then, is food the number one killer in America? Heart disease, due almost entirely to overeating or eating the wrong kinds of foods, is our number one cause of death in America. Actually, food is a sacred gift, and so the abuse of this sacred gift is seriously harmful.
Jesus shows us how to properly order our appetite for food. Consider the Last Supper: Jesus took a little bread, and a little wine. Both are natural, wholesome foods. And this is what we do at Mass: a little bread, a little wine, which is really the very body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus.
How we worship is how we should eat, because food is sacred.
Our market-driven culture teaches us to consume. We are told that food, as much and as often as we can get it, makes us happy. As with all lies, there is a kernel of truth in this: food does make us happy, but in right proportion. Too much food, or the wrong kind of food, makes us bloated, heavy, depressed, and ultimately kills us with every disease from diabetes to cardiac failure.
To be genuinely happy, we must discipline ourselves, as Jesus did. He took only a little baked fish (not fried fish!). He chastised his body; he restrained his appetites.
God made each of us in His own image. We therefore should treat our bodies with respect, instead of abuse. There is a reason why Gluttony is one of the Seven Deadly Sins!
You don’t have to be a Christian or believe in God to recognize that truth.
In his An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751), the great Scottish philosopher David Hume thought hard about ethics and morality. To this day, Hume’s definition remains among the best definitions of what “immoral” is.
For Hume, “immoral” is whatever that does harm or injury to oneself and/or to others.
Obesity, being harmful to our health and a burden in medical costs borne by not just us but the entire medical care system, fits that definition!