When is big just too damn big? Well that is the question isn’t it? As someone who has a healthy amount of care and respect for my body, its shape and what nourishes it, I figured I would touch upon the subject slightly. In the U.S obesity is as common and rampant as prime time television shows. Meaning…..it’s happening everywhere and all the time and looks to not be slowing down anytime soon. According the CDC (Center for Disease Control) more than one-third of American adults are Obese. That’s 34.9 % or 78.6 million people. Obesity in this country is higher among middle-aged folks (40-59 yrs old) than younger adults ( 20-39 yrs old). Obesity is determined in adults with a BMI ( Body Mass Index) of 30 or greater.
My boyfriend works on the railroad and as such many of his co-workers travel on the road most of the year. So a balanced, fairly healthy diet generally evades many of these guys. So I’ve seen my fair share of ginormous bellies over-powering their cotton shirts and protruding aggressively over their denim jeans. However this problem is one that we all face as a country. And not including an entire group of people who suffer from thyroid conditions, we are breeding an entire generation of extremely fat and unhealthy children. 17 % of our youth in this country are obese and that number is growing fast.
I always wonder if people ask themselves, when is enough actually enough? Do people understand the difference between large, “big-boned” and just plain ole obese? I think not. Now, let us forget about society’s view of whats perfect, of what women and men should look like in order to be considered beautiful. Because it isn’t about that. As humans we come in all different types of shapes and sizes and we are beautiful exactly for this reason. Let us instead speak on the inner voice that I believe we all have, that many of us simply just don’t listen to and ignore more often than not. Let us speak on the stuff, food and other crap, that we are actually putting into our bodies on a regular basis. Then and only then, let us decide if we are at a decent, livable, healthy size or trapped within a body that no one should have to live in, possibly shortening our lives.
What can we do?
Now there is apparently a great effort to focus on public health issues such as obesity by the government through Special supplemental nutritional programs for women, children and infants and through various new regulations in regards to food packaging information implemented by the US Dept. of Agriculture, however the numbers seem to be growing. I believe it must begin with knowledge. It sounds cliche of course, but knowledge is most definitely power. The more you know about your health, your families genetic dispositions, your chances and likelihood for high blood pressure, obesity etc. the more you can do about it. The more choices you ultimately will have.
Where the fat lives. Below is an obesity prevalence map by state.
What’s it costing us?
The extremely obese of this country have one very significant higher cost than the rest of the population. Increased healthcare costs. Some might think increased gas in one the most expensive things we suffer with as Americans. Ironically enough Americans spend 4 billion dollars a year in increased gas costs due to our weight. Which just simply sounds absurd. There are many unexpected costs associated with obesity. Which makes sense since we have the second highest obesity rate in world, next to Mexico. Things are constantly being altered and changed within society to accommodate the rampant weight increase as a society as a whole. NJ transit is widening their seats by 2.2 inches for passengers. In the year 2000, Airlines had to use and additional 350 gallons of jet fuel in order to handle the increase of weight by passengers. From a medical standpoint, new and larger machines and pieces of equipment, like mini cranes, MRI machines and wheelchairs, have had to be invented and changed to accommodate people larger than 350 pounds.
However from a business standpoint the increase in obesity is a wonderful opportunity to flourish. In 2008 $40 Billion dollars was spent on diet products. Which I find particularly interesting since the rate of obesity continues to increase. The possibilities business wise are endless if the current weight trends continue to increase as they are. Almost half of the country is estimated to be considered obese by the year 2030, which is basically around the corner folks. And if you were unawares of our current population, in order to put that into perspective, we are a country of roughly 320 million people. So there you are. You’re welcome.
I believe you must listen to your body but not ignore the advice of medical professionals as well. The general knowledge we possess as a society isn’t enough anymore to fight this war on obesity. We must search and find the knowledge and tactics to help us become healthier and ultimately happier starting from the inside out.