More people are fat now than ever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been tracking it, and the picture isn’t pretty. Last year, only Colorado had an obesity prevalence of less than 20%. This is pretty shocking. Of note here is that obesity is defined by CDC as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more. There is a lesser category called “overweight” that is somewhere between a healthy weight and being obese. Even being overweight can put the heart and cardiovascular system at risk, however.
A poll of 1,000 people randomly sampled from across the U.S. released recently by McClatchy in Washington showed that about 50% of those surveyed thought that obesity was either a minor problem or no problem at all for their families. Two-thirds of the respondents thought that they were at a healthy weight. Statistically, given the data from CDC, this isn’t possible.
As a researcher and healthcare professional, this poll is troubling to me for a few reasons. First, it begins to show that many people are not aware of the true definitions of overweight or obesity. Not seeing yourself as overweight or obese will naturally lead to no positive actions against it. Second, our health behaviors are learned from what we observe and practice while growing up. If you grow up in a household where no one sees their weight as a problem (when it actually is a problem), then a whole new generation who believe the same thing has been created. It’s much easier to develop healthy behaviors when we are children than to change them when we become adults.
Lastly, the longer people are overweight or obese, the sicker they become. When we are sick, we consume more healthcare resources. Former President Clinton spoke just days ago, noting that obesity alone costs the U.S. approximatley $147 Billion per year. So, imagine a generation of folks that really are unhealthy, but don’t see it that way. This is quite possibly this situation in which we find ourselves right now.
In the interest of disclosure, my weight is at an unhealthy level. I’ve lost nearly 20% of my starting body weight in the last year, but have much more to loose. There. I admit it.
So, my question to you is this: Are you fat? Do you admit it? What are you doing about it?
Here are some petitions you might like to sign, if you are ready to take action: