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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Despite constant pressure to be thin...Americans are obese!

I am posting a bit of a controversial musing here. In the news today, reports indicate that obesity rates in America are still on the rise, with only one state still under 20% obesity, and no states decreasing rates from last year. Our obesity as a nation is astounding. Many states boast a full 25% of residents classified as obese. In Louisiana, one out of three adults is obese. And let's not get confused here: these numbers are about obesity, that is, severely overweight*. When we look at people who are simply overweight, that's two-thirds of the population. That's right, two-thirds of Americans are overweight.
But for some reason all I hear about is that women are under constant pressure to be thin, and how terrible that is, and how we need to accept all body types. But do we? Should we accept obesity as the norm? It appears we already have, despite stick-thin models and tiny celebrities whose skin and bones we see every day. I believe we are missing the point here. We basically have an argument and a counter-argument that don't match. Science and medicine say, "We're overweight as a nation, we need to trim down because our medical, fuel, and food costs are skyrocketing" and women of the nation reply, "Stop demanding we be skinny! I'm hot with all my curves!" The response doesn't even make sense. Let's all get on the same page here! The response I'm looking for is, "Ok, you're right, I will adjust my diet and start an exercise program so I can be more healthy and drastically reduce my chances of death from cardiovascular disease".
We need to focus as a nation on a HEALTHY weight, not a FASHIONABLE weight. Being your healthy weight brings huge health benefits, decreasing cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis. And honestly it looks good too, because everyone's healthy weight looks perfect on them because they're healthy! I'm not saying you need to be skinny or that everyone should be a size 4. I'm just saying that I think we do need to pressure the population to be thinner, it's just that we need to make sure we are addressing a health concern, not a concern with appearance.
And on that note I'm going for a run because now I've given myself a massive guilt trip!
Discuss! Discuss!
* Obesity and overweight are defined by body mass index, or BMI, and yes, there is disagreement about how accurate the BMI is since it doesn't take into account health risks like fat distribution (fat waist = unhealthy) and can't tell if your weight is fat or muscle. So percentages could conceivably be lower than stated.

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