HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Monday, July 7, 2008

Large Nation

Ian Welch at Firedoglake posts a brief overview of CalorieLab showing the latest results of their survey ranking states based on weight of residents.  You can click on the CalorieLab link to review a map showing where various states rank.  Colorado was the leanest state.  Overall, it does not look good for those who were hoping to reverse the increase in illnesses associated with weight gain.  He writes,

CalorieLab has out their annual "fattest States" and it's no surprise. Folks just keep getting fatter, so much so that they had to change the categories slightly so it wasn't a wash of red, fat, states.

American obesity is something that's really noticeable if you're from out of country. Not that Canada doesn't have its own fatness epidemic, but as in so many things, we just aren't the leaders in the field. Americans are, well, fat. And even Americans who aren't fat are mostly overweight. In fact the numbers on that map really understate things, what I find shocking is that when they add up obese (BMI >30) and overweight (25 to 29.9) there's no State in the union that isn't over 50%. Mississipi, the worst, weighs in at 69.1% combined.

Sure, you can weasel this a bit. BMI does have some problems, and we're all good progressives here who don't like to judge people based on the fact that their packing a few extra pounds *cough*. But it does measure something, and more to the point, it just keeps going up, year in, year out and it has for decades. Americans, or Canadians for that matter, just weren't this fat 30 years ago. . . .

Mr. Welch then provides his three reasons for the increasing size of Americans and believes that the trend can be reversed.  He writes,

The first fact I'd push on is the farm bill and the way it subsidizes things like corn syrup production, so that the empty calories in the center aisles of grocery stores; the calories that are bad for you, are much cheaper than healthy lean meat and vegetable calories. . ..

The second problem is the "cult of the car" combined with the "burbification of America". . . .

If I were going to pick a third, it would be that people are never really taught how to exercise. Phys.ed gets cut back every year, but those programs that do exist tend to concentrate on team sports instead of teaching students how to do basic strength, cardio and flexibility training—a skill which they could use for life. . . .

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