Super Size Me

A fast food hamburger in a sesame bun, the Pan...
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Americans may be behind in math, and science, and our economy is in the tank – but there is something we can claim to be ahead in.

Obesity rates.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently issued a new report that showed an increase in obesity rates over the past year in 16 states, and none – none – showed a decline. Every state except Colorado now has obesity rates over 20 percent. Colorado — they sneak by with 19.8 percent. Not much to be proud of there. And Mississippi… well, they’ve been at the top of the obesity rate list for seven years running now.

Check out this map to see where your state ranks.

This is really sad news for both our health and our economy. We already know obesity is tied to all kinds of other diseases – heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, some cancers, to name a few. The report also shows how rates for these and other obesity-related illnesses have dramatically grown over the past 20 years. Yet so often, obesity is easily preventable.

Economically, the obesity epidemic further taxes our health system, creates a host of unnecessary expenditures, lost days from work or school, and diminished quality and length of life. Plus, there’s the psychological toll, especially on kids and teens.The only ones that seem to be profiting from this epidemic are the fast food restaurants and junk food makers.

What’s it going to take before people wake up?

From a policy standpoint, pending legislation needs to be passed and implemented to promote physical activity, and improve preventive efforts. Additionally, funding needs to be restored or increased to important programs like Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. The new food pyramid, now known as My Plate, makes it incredibly simple for everyone to understand what goes into a healthy diet.

Unless there is some physical reason not to – each one of us has to take responsibility for ensuring that we don’t contribute to these rising rates. The solution is the same that the experts have been touting for years — control portions, eat more fruits & vegetables, cut out high-fat, high salt, high calorie foods, and exercise. Every little bit helps.

As the saying goes, “you are what you eat.” Do you really want to look like a Big Mac?

1 comment / Add your comment below

  1. Important post, Liz. Healthier food choices often are more expensive and less readily available than unhealthy choices. I remember reading something in the New York Times about how hard it was to find fresh fruit and vegetables in low-income areas north of E. 96th St, but that fast-food joints littered every corner. The result is that those in the lowest income brackets suffer the highest rates of obesity. A sad situation all around.

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