The Rising Obesity Tide

Obesity continues to plague the U.S., with nine states now reporting that more than 30% of their population is obese. “In 2007, only three states reported an increased prevalence of obesity above 30 percent — Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi,” said Dr. William Dietz, director of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity at the CDC. “Now, there are nine states that exceed [that mark]: Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.” Furthermore, no U.S. States have managed to lower obesity rates to 15 percent. (HT: Seth Mangan) [%comments]


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  1. david says:

    Look no further than the poverty levels – at least in this country, wherever you have below-median incomes, you will be sure to find a prevalence of sub-par food choices and a resulting effect on population weight. A glaring contrast to today’s front-page article on India’s starving poor…

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  2. ElvisInMiami says:

    Is this raw numbers or adjusted for inflation? If the government was involved we would allow our cut off point for obese to be adjusted to inflation (which would almost guarantee it would always go up)

    Seriously on the obesity issue there are so many factors involved. 30 years ago we had tv and fast food, yet the numbers were not so large. I think a lot of the problem is we grow up in a society where we lead by example and don’t make use of our education system to better us as humans.

    It seems like the generation growing up in the 50’s thought it was good to watch TV every night and go to the drive in after school and on weekends. Also there was a large volume of new products hitting the market (mostly food related) Add in diet fads which generate new foods. Now take these same people who grew up to what seems moderately healthy and see how they influence younger peers and their own children. Why not give kids what they want and let them watch all these great shows on tv. It is only stuff they wished they had when they were kids and why should their kids and grand kids be deprived.

    If parents and grandparents cannot lead by example, provide restraint and question the health value of daily activities, then how are children today going to lead healthy lives?

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  3. ElvisInMiami says:

    Another issue we have is lack of education. People are easily influenced by what they can easily read or hear. For example I am in the grocery store and kids ask their parents if something is healthy and I hear yes/no about 50/50. That is great, but when I hear yes, I look at what qualifies and it is really just junk food. The best example is fruit juice (or the related chewy animal looking things.) These products say “real juice”, “organic”, “low sugar” in big print. When you read the ingredient list and nutritional values it is only slightly different from the one that got a NO from the parents.

    There is little education in public school that really teaches kids what they are consuming. The few classes that children do get exposure to usually address the basic food groups, the food pyramid and what you “should” be consuming. There is no education that helps educate kids to make better choices and convey their learnings to the parents.

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  4. Annie says:

    Good news for the CDC and gov’t Health department, that just means more money for them, which was their plan all along. Even the food pyramid (paid for by food lobbyists) you see in schools is designed to instill a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits in our children (meat, milk, bread, and cheese are why we are so unhealthy and yet we’ve been brainwashed into thinking these foods are good for us!)

    “Feed them cheap, fake food made by corporations = myrid of health problems = a lifetime of money pouring in to our coffers.”

    The problem with health education in the US is that they try to cure the disease rather than prevent it in the first place.

    When will Americans wake up and realize that the government is not here to help or protect us but to grab as much power and money from us as possible? It’s the same with either a Democrat or Republican in office. The end result is the same. Repeat after me:


    Read this-

    “How the Government Encourages Obesity: The High Fructose Corn Syrup Story”

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  5. EarlW says:

    How do they determine ‘obesity’. Do they use the same calculation as poverty?
    There will always be a proportion of the population which is over or under the average and this changes depending on access to food and other variables.

    Why do we hear more about the American “Obesity Epidemic” than the African “Undernutrition Epidemic”.

    It must be the same people who didn’t drink their “eight glasses of water every day”.

    Why do you waste space and time on these useless pieces? How about an analysis of the obesity calculations?

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  6. Joe says:

    Of course, the fact that they redefined a lower BMI as “obese” couldn’t have anything to do with the increase in those numbers, could it?

    This would be a good Freakonomics topic, as it would be nice to see a disinterested third party take a look at the numbers. Rather than uncritically repeating them.

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  7. Geoffrey says:

    There are certainly a number of factors that go into the obesity issue, but two that the government directly contribute to are the Food Pyramid and grain subsidies. We are the first generation that has experienced the effects of a low fat, high carb diet starting in the womb, and we are only now just starting to see the effects of this trend.

    While the proper human diet movement is growing in popularity, grass fed, pastured meat is still mostly inaccessible to the majority of the population, as a country we are totally misinformed from the top down as to what is good for us. Reversing this trend will require that we first and foremost, kill off all grain subsidies cold turkey, and second, modify the food pyramid to reflect our pre-agriculture, evolutionary experience.

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  8. savvysavingbytes says:

    Instrumental in banning junk food from English schools, Jamie Oliver came to the fattest city in the USA in April in an uphill battle to turn the tide of the fattening, unhealthy food the schools were feeding their children.This occurred in a West Virginia town where the purchase of double-wide coffins to accommodate obese citizens was common place.

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