Just How FAT Are Americans?
by Brooke Douglas, R.D.
Just How Fat are Americans?
We hear a lot of reports about the growing obesity epidemic, but what does it mean?
America’s Obesity Epidemic
Obesity is defined as a body-mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Although, this number is not
equally distributed around the U.S. Check to see how your state lines up in the prevalence of
15 – 19% Fat Colorado is ‘thinnest’ state and the only state to average less than 20% body fat.
20 – 24% Fat Hawaii, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Illinois, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Florida and Virginia.
25 – 29% Fat Washington, Oregon, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland.
> 30% Fat Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi.
The World Obesity Epidemic
I know it may be hard to believe, but the U.S. isn’t the most ‘obese’ country on earth. In fact, we’re also not the most ‘overweight’. After a quarter-century rise, obesity prevalence has not increased since 2004. Still, 72 million adults (34%) are obese. Many health professionals would like this number to be less than 15%, a level not seen since 1980.
Below are the top eight ‘obese’ countries and the top eight ‘overweight’ countries:
% Overweight % Obese
62% Israel 29% Kuwait
63% Bosnia 29% Bahrain
64% Kuwait 34% United States
66% United States 34% United Arab Emirates
67% United Kingdom 36% Saudi Arabia
67% Germany 41% French Polynesia
73% Saudi Arabia 56% Tonga
75% French Polynesia 79% Nauru
What’s Your BMI
Underweight = <18.5
Normal weight = 18.5-24.9
Overweight = 25-29.9
Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
Counting Calories –
Not only are we consuming too much fast food, processed white foods and drinking too many liquid calories but we are also way too sedentary. It only takes an extra 100 calories daily to manifest to a ten-pound weight gain in one year. That’s not that much food (maybe a couple of Oreos with some nonfat milk). Instead of, “Where’s the Beef?” How about, ‘Where’s the Fruit and Vegetables?’ It is our own responsibility to ‘provide’ and ‘enforce’ healthy eating principles. Adults need to eat right and expect the same of their children. Keeping a food record for a few days can be a real eye-opener to how many extra calories you (or your child) are consuming each day.
Children should consume around 1,300 calories a day, or about 430 calories per meal (on average). One typical kids meal provides 570 to 740 calories per meal. These extra calories are very cumulative and can really add up and contribute to the obesity epidemic in children and adults.
The USDA recommends the average adult consume only 2,000 calories daily. The average American adult consumes from 1,883 up to 5,649 calories daily, as estimated by the World Health Organization. It is also estimated that over 40% of our calorie intake comes from both fat and excessive sugar intake of any form (corn syrup, molasses, honey, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, etc.). What this means is that we are eating more calories, 24% more to be exact. Although, there is no finger pointing, one single food group is not to blame. It’s the big picture of too many calories (regardless from sugar or fat) and not enough exercise.
What Can We Do About It?
The likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes and hypertension rises steeply with increasing body fatness. Confined to older adults for most of the 20th century, this disease now affects both moderately overweight and obese children. Approximately 85% of people with diabetes are type 2, and of these, 90% are obese or overweight.
Effective weight management for adults and children at risk of becoming overweight and developing obesity involves a range of long-term strategies. These strategies may include: Nutrition and Lifestyle Changes, Food-Nutrient Timing and Portions Sizes, Diagnosis Specific Nutrition Education, Physical Activity Education/Monitoring, Laboratory Assessment/Target Ranges, Nutrient Supplementation, Stimulus Control/Behavior Barriers, Personal Goal Setting, and Self Monitoring via Food Analysis.
Ask your physician if he thinks you are an appropriate patient to benefit from Medical Nutrition Therapy?
Brooke Douglas, R.D.
You may also enjoy:
Healthy Snacks for the 9-5’er