Obesity Rate in US Higher than AIDS Rate in Africa

by Christine Sine

I am sitting here waiting for my red peppers to get nice and black under the broiler and thought that I would do a little browsing on healthy eating as a follow up to the article I wrote a couple of days ago on What Makes Us Fat?.

I have known for a long time that obesity rates are increasing.  Worldwide today, 10% of men and 14% of women are obese – compared to 5% of men and 8% of women in the 1980s. But in the U.S., 32% of men and 35% of women are obese – compared with 15% for both sexes during the 80s.   So I should not have been surprised to come across this article:

It’s no secret that Americans have an obesity problem, but since we’re awfully skilled at looking away from the scale and towards our next drive thru, it can’t hurt to take a moment to check in with the numbers: According to an annual report from the Trust for America’s Healthadult obesity rates have gone up in 16 states between 2008 and 2010 (and gone down in none). Which puts over two-thirds of U.S. states at obesity rates of over 25 percent, while only one state — Colorado — has a rate lower than 20 percent.

You could roll your eyes and tell me you’ve heard it before; you could question all these studies’ definitions of “obese.” But if I told you that 25% of the population had AIDS, you’d be frantic. Everyone would freak out. The news would make front-page headlines. We’d be raising funds to resolve an epidemic; in fact, that’s exactly the reaction that the world’s highest AIDS rates, which hover around six percent in Sub-Saharan Africa according to the most recent report from UNAIDS, have gotten from the media and world organizations.  read the entire article

And it is true – why aren’t we frantic about the obesity epidemic in our society – not just in the US but throughout much of the Western world?  And of course it doesn’t help that gaining or losing weight to play a role has become fair gain for Hollywood Stars as these articles show:

Ten Hollywood Celebrities who Gained Major Weight for a Movie Role 

Ten Celebrities Who Lost Serious Weight for a Movie Role

It also doesn’t help that some people are trying to convince us that what you weigh doesn’t really matter.  Evidently body-acceptance advocates are picketing NBC’s reality hit The Biggest Loser. “Real health doesn’t come from conforming to society’s standards of size and shape,” says Connie Sobczak of The Body Positive, a Berkeley, California nonprofit, which, along with the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, is fighting for the rights of the overweight.

From my perspective acceptance is not the problem, bad health is.  Obesity adds to the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and the risk of coronary artery disease.  I am so glad that Michelle Obama has taken on obesity awareness as a personal crusade,with the Lets Move movement.  She has even been seen jumping rope and hula hooping in public to promote healthy exercise.

If the current economic recession can spark a revolution in home gardening and local food production why can’t it also result in more healthy eating and less obesity?  What do you think?

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