9.02.2008

The Obesity Epidemic

I had an appointment at my chiropractor's last week and, as is their custom, they had some general health information to pass along. The handout from the other day dealt with the rapid and deadly ascent of caloric intake over the last three decades.

I'm trying to find better trending numbers but the rundown looks like this.
1975: 2206 cpd (calories per day)
1985: 2431 cpd
1995: 2599 cpd
2003: 2757 cpd

What does that mean? It means people are eating too much and getting fatter faster than ever before.

The average caloric requirement for an adult man is 2200 calories per day. Stacking an additional 550 calories per day with an equivalent increase in activity means that the average American male can pack on 3800 "bad" calories a week. That's a pound per week in possible weight gain.

The graphic up there details the sharp increase in obesity rates since 1976. The flat line in the middle is the number of overweight but not obese people, its the only promising data in the chart. What we are looking at is nearly 7 in every 10 American adults between the age of 20 and 74 being overweight at best and about half of those are clinically obese. Obese is the definition of anyone with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above.

Want to get a rough calculation of your BMI? Click here. In the interest of disclosure, my BMI stands at 23.7, a couple of points below the overweight border. But one inch shorter and five pounds heavier and my BMI creeps over into the overweight territory.

It used to be that fat people were fat because they could afford to be and being fat was a sign of wealth. This is no longer the case and with good reason. It is easy to eat a diet stuffed full of empty calories. Go through the drive-thru at Taco Bell, Wendy's or McDonald's and you are going to get a whole assload of worthless fat and carbohydrates.

Becoming aware of the problem is the first step to addressing it. I know I need more exercise and now the issue is just making it happen.
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