Saturday, August 14, 2010
The NY Times reports the disturbing news that the number of obese people in the U.S. has increased by an additional 2.4 milllion people in the past two years. Now, 72 million people in the U.S. are obese. This constitutes 26.7 percent of the population. The report speculates that this number is an underestimate as the rates "are based on a phone survey in which 400,000 participants were asked their weight and height instead of having it measured by someone else, and people have a notorious tendency to describe themselves as taller and lighter than they really are."
'Over the past several decades, obesity has increased faster than anyone could have imagined it would,' said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issued a report on the prevalence of obesity. Obesity rates have doubled in adults and tripled in children in recent decades, Dr. Frieden said. 'If the numbers keep going up,' he added, 'more people will get sick and die from the complications of obesity, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.'
The report estimates the medical costs of obesity to be as high as $147 billion a year, and notes that 'past efforts and investments to prevent and control obesity have not been adequate.'
Researchers blame the usual suspects: too little exercise and too much of the wrong kind of food, which means not enough fruits and vegetables and too many high-calorie meals full of sugar and fat, like French fries, soda and other sweet drinks. Children do not get enough exercise during the school day; Dr. Frieden noted that even in gym classes, students are active for only about a third of the time.