01 July 2009

Appetite for Destruction?

One of the funniest things in the delightfully subversive movie “WALL-E” is how humanity is portrayed in the future: morbidly obese on hover chairs, unable to get up or do things for themselves.
Well, if reports issued today by the BBC and Reuters are any indication, we might already be halfway there. Obesity rates in the U.S. rose 22 percent last year, without a single decrease in any state across the union. Of these, Mississippi rated worst, with 32.5 percent of adults considered obese. The Reuters report said that the state has had this dubious title for the past five years. Colorado had the fewest obese adults, with 18.9 percent.
According to the BBC article, “in 1991, no state had an adult obesity rate above 20 percent, and in 1980 the national average for adult obesity was 15 percent.” Now, nearly two-thirds of American adults are either obese or overweight, the Reuters article said.
I’m one of them. I have a BMI of 27. A BMI of 18-25 is considered normal. Like many Americans, I am the victim of two things: one is my own lack of willpower to choose the right food to put in my body, and the other is the fact that much of the affordable food is so high processed that it makes getting fatter much, much easier than it used to be. Throughout human history, and in some places today, getting fat was a sign of wealth and prosperity. Now, perhaps being skinny is the sign of being wealthy enough to eat organic and non-processed foods on a regular basis.
The irony in this scenario is that the poorest people, who buy the cheapest or fastest food options, are now the fattest – something that would have no doubt confused the hell out of any time travelers from the Renaissance. In an era where Americans know how important exercise is, it seems that we lead such busy, complicated and ultimately stressful lives that few actually do on a regular basis. I know I am guilty of this. Also, as times get worse, and people’s stress levels go up, they eat more, adding more pounds to an already vicious cycle.
There’s going to be hell to pay for this. It’s well known that obesity contributes to health care costs. So how are we going to continue paying for premiums that increase nearly 30 percent a year?
I think I just lost my appetite.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We need to start running together. I took 2 months off with almost no exercise & I am now training for Twin Cities Marathon.