Why are Americans so fat???

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 07, 2007 11:28 PM GMT
    You can typically spot an American tourist less from their clothes but from their expansive waist. Looking at folks from just a few generations ago, people were MUCH thinner (ask to see grandpa's old pics if you think I'm lying about this). If anything, gyms are more ubiquitous, knowledge of nutrition readily availible, and social stigma of fat as strong as ever; however, sizes continue to go up, restaurants have to make bigger seats, and over half of the US population is obese. WTF? What are your thoughts on what started this trend (socially, economically, etc.), where you see it going, and ways we can get it together. All feedback appreciated!
  • NorthFl

    Posts: 98

    Nov 07, 2007 11:43 PM GMT
    look at our portion sizes compared to everywhere else. Also high fructose corn syrup seems to be a staple here.
  • Barricade

    Posts: 457

    Nov 08, 2007 2:11 AM GMT
    Lack of peoples knowledge on what to eat. Alot of people beleive that to eat healthy is to deprive ones self or that it is gonna be nasty. Plus, there is convenience too. You just got off work and your tired, just go to McDonalds. The biggest thing is just plain not wanting to be health conscience I guess.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 08, 2007 2:22 AM GMT
    There are a wide range of factors.

    People are to accepting of the overweight.

    This has been studied to death by folks like the USDA, Mayo, and so on.

    In a nutshell:
    1. Portion sizes
    2. Culture
    3. Lack of activity
    4. Fast food vs real food
    5. More leisure time.
    6. Food as a medication, rather than sustinence.
    7. Absent / bad parents.
    8. Non-nuclear families.
    9. Corporate marketing.
    10. To much acceptance of fat people.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Nov 08, 2007 2:28 AM GMT
    I think our culture of excess, combined with increased processed foods - especially high-fructose corn syrup - and we're too generations into children of the "Me" generation is taking effect.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 08, 2007 2:38 AM GMT
    President William Howard Taft

    Taftphoto.jpg

    taft1.jpg
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 08, 2007 2:49 AM GMT
    A culture of excess in a civilization of abundance... we have just created a civilization that can produce in abundance and human nature hasnt adapted to so much so available all of the time.

    However, all those gyms arent supporting themselves either. People do use them. I find it rather gratuitous to slam "american tourists." What is the basis of this statement:
    Jackal69"You can typically spot an American tourist less from their clothes but from their expansive waist."

    Give me a break!
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    Nov 08, 2007 3:05 AM GMT
    Another thing to realize is that obesity rates are calculated by simple phone surveys of asking people how tall they are and how much they weigh. Honestly, how accurate is that? Let's also not forget that the published obesity rates for other industrialized countries aren't really that much behind our own...in other words obesity is hardly an "American problem."
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    Nov 08, 2007 3:21 AM GMT
    That's a great article, peterstrong.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16305

    Nov 08, 2007 3:41 AM GMT
    I tend to agree with what has been said above, but more.. it seems our society as a whole is moving from a point in time where we had to physically work (to even get our clothes clean) to escape all tasks and work.... even computers and sites like this icon_eek.gif
    encourage us to sit on our butts and be less active.
    It is viewed as a positive to give us additional leisure time and less work through machines, etc.
    What do we do with the leisure? Many just sit on their
    hindquarters.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 08, 2007 4:01 AM GMT
    "here is one of the best most up to date editorials you can read about this subject"

    Michael Pollan's blog for the NYT was the best writing about food politics I've ever read. He also did an amazing cover story for the Sunday magazine. He's been especially good at debunking a lot of the phony, politically influenced certification of "organic" labels. (Your beef might be called organic because the cow was fed organic grain -- in a crowded, inhumane, polluted feedlot.)

    Another reason Americans are fat is because of the deliberate lying of the processed food industry. It's been known for about 20 years that trans fats are poison, that they radically affect coronary health. The industry bought off scientists who deliberately lied and discredited the research -- in much the same way the tobacco industry did. For 20 years, the processed food people have been literally, knowingly poisoning people with trans fats.

    People also don't realize how QUICKLY fast food can affect health and make you obese -- a fact demonstrated in the movie "Super Size Me."
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    Nov 08, 2007 4:29 AM GMT
    Super Size Me should be mandatory viewing.
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    Nov 08, 2007 4:55 AM GMT
    Well, it's not like America is the only country with an obesity problem. We might have more obese people per capita, but by population FRANCE is in the lead with more fatties. This isn't just bashing on the French, either. My friend who is from France and works in the healthcare field over there told me that that is one of the countries biggest problems, and by the ratio of obese to average people over there, they're beating Americans (more obese by population).
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    Nov 08, 2007 5:06 AM GMT
    On another thread, obscenewish posted this link:

    http://tinyurl.com/2sygtg

    And, it shows France having nowhere near the rate of obesity as the USA.
  • hotversguy

    Posts: 155

    Nov 08, 2007 5:16 AM GMT
    Money.

    There's money to be made in getting you fat. A lot has gone into the study of it. (McDonalds, e.g.)

    There's money to be made in medically treating your obesity. (Pfizer's fight to keep the Lipitor patent, e.g.)

    The margins on statins is a lot higher than that on owning a gym.

  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Nov 08, 2007 6:10 AM GMT
    "We might have more obese people per capita, but by population FRANCE is in the lead with more fatties. This isn't just bashing on the French, either. My friend who is from France and works in the healthcare field over there told me that that is one of the countries biggest problems, and by the ratio of obese to average people over there, they're beating Americans (more obese by population)."

    This is mathematically impossible. Per capita means per person. If the per capita obesity rate in this country is 0.31, for instance, that means 31% of people are obese. Therefore, the country with the highest obesity rate will also have the highest ratio of obese people to healthy weight people, barring any unusual situations such as a country being effectively bimodal between obese and underweight, with very few in the healthy weight range.

    According to the 2005 WHO stats, 36% of US men 15-100 had a BMI over 30, while 8% of French men in that range did. For females, it looks to be about 42% and 8%. And since overall population size is much larger in the US than in France, we have not only more fat people in a group of a given size, but also way more fat people in total.

    Now, granted, the data may not be the most reliable. I've found sources claiming that the French data is from self-report, while the US data is through medical personnel, for instance. But even so, the statement quoted above is not possible mathematically.
  • blackberry78

    Posts: 9

    Nov 08, 2007 7:46 AM GMT
    There are so many reasons (and I am not just pointing at Americans but all of North America.)

    The main thing is convience. A lot of people today don't work 9-5 anymore, they work 9-9, skipping breakfast and lunches and by the time they get home they are hungry and tired so they eat was quick,fast and filling. Also the cost. Think about it. Why would you drop $9 on a healthy sandwich, a small salad and a bottle of water when $5 can get you a burger, fries, a drink and still leave with you change to by the paper? Especially for college and university students where finances are tight, if its cheap and tastes good, then it's worth buying.
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    Nov 08, 2007 7:58 AM GMT
    What I don't get about fast food like burgers and chips is that ultimately, it's not very filling. If I have a Big Mac Meal I can guarantee that an hour later I'll be hungry again. Whereas if I have say shepherd's pie with lots of veggies or a baked potato with a yummy filling then I'm full for 3 hours or more.

    A lot of it is just laziness, people would rather sit on their butts rather than go to the gym or drive to the shops rather than walk.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11648

    Nov 08, 2007 11:43 AM GMT
    We're spoiled little brats...that's why
    we EXPECT large portions
    we EXPECT immediate gratification on just about everything
    ...and we don't wanna work for anything

    you see it in our ways of eating
    ...in our politics where everything is honed down to a 30 sec sound bite
    in our expectation of medical treatment...where if it doesn't come in a pill it's not a treatment
    where else is the perfect picture of what is healthy a man with a fake tan who's on steroids?

  • Laurence

    Posts: 942

    Nov 08, 2007 11:53 AM GMT
    Obesity is a worldwide problem - especially in Europe and the US.

    In the US food is really cheap and the portions you get are excessive.

    In the Europe the same problem is happening, as people get used to eating more and more of the bad food.

    It's depressing here in the UK that we have had things like a major overall of school meals (where kids now only can eat heathily..no fries, pizza etc) and then their stupid parents are giving them fried food over the school gates.

    Loz
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    Nov 08, 2007 11:59 AM GMT
    fatsexybannersm.jpg164640_Q53CJEO1E6LRUTOM4V2UKCSROO1K7Q_fa
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    Nov 08, 2007 12:19 PM GMT
    Fat is also the new healthy:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/07/health/07fat.html

    "About two years ago, a group of federal researchers reported that overweight people have a lower death rate than people who are normal weight, underweight or obese. Now, investigating further, they found out which diseases are more likely to lead to death in each weight group.

    Linking, for the first time, causes of death to specific weights, they report that overweight people have a lower death rate because they are much less likely to die from a grab bag of diseases that includes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, infections and lung disease. And that lower risk is not counteracted by increased risks of dying from any other disease, including cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

    As a consequence, the group from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute reports, there were more than 100,000 fewer deaths among the overweight in 2004, the most recent year for which data were available, than would have expected if those people had been of normal weight.

    Their paper is published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    The researchers also confirmed that obese people and people whose weights are below normal have higher death rates than people of normal weight. But, when they asked why, they found that the reasons were different for the different weight categories.

    Some who studied the relation between weight and health said the nation might want to reconsider what are ideal weights.

    “If we use the criteria of mortality, then the term ‘overweight’ is a misnomer,” said Daniel McGee, professor of statistics at Florida State University.

    “I believe the data,” said Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. A body mass index of 25 to 30, the so-called overweight range, “may be optimal,” she said."

    More of article at link.
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Nov 08, 2007 12:34 PM GMT
    Partly because we've never moved beyond the point where fatness was an indicator of affluence. For years, across the world, being fat meant you didn't have to toil in the fields for your money. It was a status symbol.

    Partly because of the many things listed above.

    Partly because parents have abrogated their responsibility for raising their children to television, the internet, and less so to the local school systems, none of which are equipped for it.

    I think this is a big one. In a recent study started over 10 years ago (the most massive nutritional study in history, or so I've been told) people who were allowed to eat ad libitum didn't gain more weight or show more disease risk (in any category) than those on restricted diets. This implies that those studied (post-menopausal women, who are at the highest risk for "weight related" diseases) eat healthily when they are allowed to eat what when and how they want.

    But those people have failed to pass on those food values to their children. And so the generation following them will sit and eat twinkies until they explode.
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    Nov 08, 2007 12:42 PM GMT
    I heard an article the other day on NPR where they spoke about injecting high frutcose corn syurp into baby formula for many years. Also the portion sizes are ridiculous. And major chain restraunt, from fast food to "real" food serve enormous portions that no one in thier right mind should consume in one sitting. At McDonald's, the child size drink used to be the small, and the medium used to be the large.
    I have no problem asking the waitress for half-portions or childsized portions when I go out.
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Nov 08, 2007 12:46 PM GMT
    I just ask them to doggy bag it.

    I love leftovers, and so does my wallet. There are places I go to eat specifically because I can get three meals out of the place.