Why is obesity such a big problem in the US?

  • Aleco_Graves

    Posts: 708

    Jul 11, 2014 2:24 AM GMT
    So every country has a steriotype. We all know them, i've always known that the american stereotype was frequent obesity, but i never knew it was this bad.

    I realised how dire the obesity problem was when I was busy watching a clip a man was busy filming in front of a Walmart (the video was actually about how a woman was making racist remarks towards him and he captured it on film, but racism is such a frequent chat subject in my country its almost become boring), something caught my attention - the amount of, not overweight, not fat, but obese people entering Walmart. Some of them where riding these three wheel scooters into the store instead of walking, ridiculous!

    My question isn't really why obesity is such a big problem in the US, because the answer is simple, the population just ate too much (processed, sugar coated, deep fried) food.

    My question is: WHY IS OBESITY A BIGGER PROBLEM IN AMERICA THAN IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD?
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    Jul 11, 2014 6:33 AM GMT
    Mexico is now the fattest country. Brazil and the UK are also on the top 10.
  • Aleco_Graves

    Posts: 708

    Jul 11, 2014 10:24 AM GMT
    kevex saidMexico is now the fattest country. Brazil and the UK are also on the top 10.


    Really intersting to hear how statistics change over the years. Last study I read was done in 2011 and 1st was America, Britain 2nd, my home country: South Africa 3rd and Australia in 4th.

    Guess South Africa is still in the top 5. The youth of SA are still on the top five fattest youth demographics. Im not really in a position to judge American than, i'm just really curious.

    I think for my country it isn't as much Junkfood as it is Alcoholism. icon_lol.gif
    Seriously though, all that beer and wine are calorie traps
  • metta

    Posts: 39144

    Jul 11, 2014 4:07 PM GMT
    In the US, it became a cultural thing. Obesity has made huge increases in just the last couple of decades. But I think the answer is probably a complicated one with more than one reason:

    Convenience, less home cooked meals made from scratch (part of this is marketing, part of this is time management), larger portions, more processed foods, bad parenting skills (stop feeding your kids so much junk), financial (healthier foods tend to cost more), etc.
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    Jul 11, 2014 5:15 PM GMT
    My theory is that it's because we add so much sugar and the excess sugar is screwing up our brains, or something, and making us hungrier and want bigger portions.
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    Jul 11, 2014 7:50 PM GMT
    "Food" which is processed until it is no longer really "food".
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    Jul 11, 2014 8:19 PM GMT
    The clip you saw had nothing to do with this country. It had to do with the http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/. The vast majority are truly disgusting.
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    Jul 11, 2014 9:34 PM GMT
    It's the governments fault. I'm a libertarian, so I blame everything on the government!

    But seriously, the government has many programs that contribute to the obesity epidemic.

    The Eisenhower interstate system is one of them. Prior to him, roads were funded soley by states and local governments. Eisenhower was impressed by the autobahns in Germany when we invaded and how they made it fast and easy to move troops around. He came back and got elected and instituted federal funding for expressways. One of the unintended consequences was that it made it easier and faster to get in and out of suburbs to cities. Which meant that we all spent more time sitting in our cars and less time walking places.

    An even bigger problem is farm subsidies. USA farm subsidies are a huge, complicated MESS with many of the programs dating back to FDR. Basically the government subsidizes the over production of grains which then get put in EVERYTHING. So hyper processed junk food is cheaper than healthy food. Have you ever tried to make a burger for $0.99? Why can McDonalds? The best visualization I ever saw of this was a picture of how for the same amount of money you could buy 1100 calories of potato chips, or 220 calories of fresh vegetables or 170 calories of fresh fruit. If you make $12.50 an hour what will you feed your family?

    (it's not really the government's fault, not alone anyway. Big business collaborates and coopts the government.)
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    Jul 11, 2014 10:19 PM GMT
    Wyndahoi said...
    (it's not really the government's fault, not alone anyway. Big business collaborates and coopts the government.)
    They wouldn't be big businesses if people didn't buy their products. Just sayin'. icon_wink.gif

    The real problem stems from cultural surroundings. As it stands, lots of people are switching to healthier foods. You can see this even here on RJ. In my 7 years on this site, I've seen quite a few people change their eating habits and lose weight...myself included, by losing 70 lbs.

    As more people switch to healthier foods, the big businesses will have to either adapt and start selling healthier foods, or go out of business. It's way cheaper to eat healthy than it is to eat junk food, once you learn what to shop for.

    As for the traffic situation, bicycles have been around long before cars. If more people rode bikes, companies could build individual enclosures for bicycles (to prevent theft) way cheaper than building large parking lots, and have enough money left over to build shower facilities for their employees (cause, ya know, cycling makes ya sweat).
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    Jul 12, 2014 3:36 AM GMT
    Living in upstate NY biking is an option roughly half the year.

    And in my city there are very few grocery stores, mostly corner bodegas. The grocery stores are in the suburbs. So if you don't have a car you have a lot less access to places to buy fresh produce.

    RJ-ers are not a representative sample of the population. Im willing to bet that on average users of this site have more money and education than the average American.

    Obesity is a poor persons disease in this country. There are fat rich people, but the rates of obesity are inversely proportional to income level. Which is related to education, time to cook (McDonalds is faster and cheaper) and access to healthier options. If you look at the states with the highest obesity rates, they correlate closely with education and wealth rates too. (hint: Mississippi has the highest rates of obesity.)

    NO country has decreased its obesity rate ever. Its great that individuals have been able to, but as a society we haven't been able to bend the curve at all.
  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11406

    Jul 12, 2014 4:33 AM GMT
    Because everybody that comes to America was starving in their country so when they get here they can't stop eating
  • Lincsbear

    Posts: 2605

    Jul 12, 2014 2:24 PM GMT
    AMoonHawk saidBecause everybody that comes to America was starving in their country so when they get here they can't stop eating


    Martina Navratilova has said when she defected from Czechoslovakia to the west in the mid-seventies she couldn`t stop eating as so much food was simply available! The only thing that saved her was all the tennis and general exercise she was doing.

    Many reasons why the US has an obesity problem: a prevalence of processed/junk food, a culture of snacking, lack of exercise through labour saving devices, the conspicuous display/availability of food everywhere, lack of cooking skills, even family breakdown, etc.

    And all these problems have come together in the last few decades, but so slowly as to be hardly noticeable to most people. The result is a lack of concern about this issue until it reaches near epidemic proportions. But if you look back to the sixties or earlier, you see how much thinner people were. My own parents were pretty average and the levels of physical activity they did without thinking are almost unbelievable nowadays.
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    Jul 13, 2014 4:55 AM GMT
    Like everyone else said, it's a complex issue. Also, healthy food is expensive and not easily accessible. Meanwhile, fast food is cheap and plentiful. Particularly in poorer areas.
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 14372

    Jul 13, 2014 2:39 PM GMT
    metta8 saidIn the US, it became a cultural thing. Obesity has made huge increases in just the last couple of decades. But I think the answer is probably a complicated one with more than one reason:

    Convenience, less home cooked meals made from scratch (part of this is marketing, part of this is time management), larger portions, more processed foods, bad parenting skills (stop feeding your kids so much junk), financial (healthier foods tend to cost more), etc.
    Let me add that Americans just hate to walk a short distance and are too dependent on motor transportation. The automobile has helped make Americans fat and lazy. Any kind of exercise seems to be such a major effort for Americans and it appears that Mexicans have become the same way now that Mexico has become the fattest nation in the world.