Thursday, May 19, 2011
15-Day Count Down to Provence: Getting a Handle on Overweight and Obesity
This morning I got up early (very early) to get the facts on overweight and obesity. I wanted to satisfy my curiosity about what’s going on with this worldwide phenomenon and share what I learned with you.
I discovered that there is a debate about whether the US is the fattest country in the world. Some Pacific Islands and countries in the Middle East exceed us. Still, the US is the fattest country in the developed world, if we are to believe a 2010 report.
The real issue is that virtually everywhere across the globe, the number of persons with excess body weight has increased since 1980. And according to a related Huff Post article, the study shows that other countries are gaining weight faster than the US.
Why should we care? Health risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke associated with overweight and obesity give us reasons enough for concern. Associated skyrocketing health care costs is another reason to become alarmed. Did you know that health care spending is 25 percent higher for someone who is obese than for someone who is of normal weight? (Okay, call me a geek for statistics).
How about France where we’ll live for the next three months? France is faring better than most developed countries in terms of overweight and obesity. It ranks among the lowest of the world’s 33 wealthiest nations. Still obesity rates have increased in France and are expected to continue to get worse. About 40 percent of people in France are overweight or obese (in contrast to 68 percent in the US). In a Forbes.com article from 2007, the US ranked high for the percentage of adults who are overweight (ninth place) while France ranked quite low (128 of 194 countries).
What’s the cause of the overweight and obesity epidemic? According to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, “Changes in the food supply and eating habits, combined with a dramatic fall in physical activity have made obesity a global epidemic.” A rapid transformation in eating habits may be afoot. For example, the much-lauded Mediterranean Diet, had all but disappeared in Greece as of 2008. Along with the diet’s extinction came more calories and greater girth.
Please comment below on these questions: What can we learn from these fast facts? What should we be doing collectively and individually about this epidemic?