Americans are fat. The latest obesity estimates reach as high as 30% of the population. The future looks worse. There’s been much hand wringing over the years, with a new television show sprouting up every season imploring the obese to lose weight. But everyone wants to know: why is this happening?
Researchers Charles Baum and Shin-Yi Chou provide a detailed look at the leading indicators of weight, using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 1979 and 1997 to compare the habits, similarities and differences between people of the same age – just a quarter century apart. The results aren’t pleasant: the largest effect on our recent weight gain? The decline in cigarette smoking. Read More »
The results of a new study by public health researchers at Columbia University and Oxford University forecasts that by 2030, there will be an additional 65 million obese adults living in the U. S., and 11 million more in the U.K. That would bring the U.S. obese population up from 99 million to 164 million, roughly half the population. The findings suggest that as a result, medical costs associated with the treatment of preventable diseases (diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer) will increase somewhere between $48 billion and $66 billion per year, in the U.S. alone
Is higher obesity due to the rise in driving? Perhaps. It’s an intriguing hypothesis. But our friends at The Economist should know better than to report nonsensical correlations. Here’s the evidence they cite (drawn from this entirely unconvincing research paper published in Transport Policy):
Looks impressive, right? (Well, apart from putting the explanatory variable on the vertical axis.) But before concluding that there’s anything here, let’s try a different variable, instead—my age: Read More »
Some people really are addicted to foods in a similar way others might be dependent on certain substances, like addictive illegal or prescriptions drugs, or alcohol, researchers from Yale University revealed in Archives of General Psychiatry. Those with an addictive-like behavior seem to have more neural activity in specific parts of the brain in the same way substance-dependent people appear to have, the authors explained.
The demand for calories increases with age, both because one’s income rises and because one’s taste for good, caloric food has been developed over many years of good eating. I didn’t know what an Esterhazy cake was 40 years ago, but now I can’t resist one if it’s on the menu! Read More »
New research by an FDA economist shows that overweight adolescents who are surrounded by overweight family and friends, don’t consider themselves to be overweight. Read More »
That’s the question posed in a new working paper by Patricia M. Anderson, Kristin F. Butcher, and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach. What would the mechanism/s be? “Schools facing increased pressures to produce academic outcomes may reallocate their efforts in ways that have unintended consequences for children’s health. For example, schools may cut back on recess and physical education in favor of increasing time on tested subjects.” Read More »
Obesity is far from just an American problem. These nifty maps from the Economist display average BMI for males around the world in 1980 and 2008, and the percentage change. Read More »