DRHOOK- Losers! Obesity epidemic must be reversed
"Bigger is better." Donald Trump's skyscrapers– and hair. Pamela Anderson's bodacious boobs. Taylor Lautner's big biceps. Aaron Spelling's monstrosity of a mansion. Alaska (except for that scary woman who lives there).
Is this why Americans continue to become more obese?
Healthy People 2010 included the objective that every state in the US lower the obesity rate. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must have been very disappointed this year to learn that every state failed to meet this goal. Let's see, if one state in this nation met the goal, we could say two percent of the states succeeded. Just two percent, but zero percent achieved it! That's worse than my coming in 5th out of five last month at an ice dancing competition. (I had not competed in three years, so it was disappointing to lose to 8-, 10-, and 65-year-olds– and an embryo.)
Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more. You take your weight in kilograms and divide by height in meters squared. Personally, I prefer using percent body fat, but BMI is the easiest way to identify a person with obesity.
Between 2008 and 2009, 30 states increased the gravity of the earth, i.e. became heavier due to an increase in obesity. Louisiana, where fried food is considered an essential food group, had the biggest jump in obesity– from 30 to 34.4 percent of adults. Mississippi is the most obese state with 36 percent, followed by Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia. Looks like we might need to have another Civil War, but this time on the poundage.
A study this year showed more Americans are being honest about their excessive weight. In my practice, overweight and obese patients admit they are heavy, but most of them don't want to be near their ideal body weight.
"Doc, if I weighed less than 200 pounds, I'd look like I had cancer or AIDS."
"Oh, I haven't weighed that since I was 18, and I think I would look sickly if I even weighed 20 pounds more than that."
I'm not worried about how patients will look if they're at ideal body weight. I'm concerned about their health: energy level, heart and arteries, blood sugars, etc. We might be living longer, but I don't think we're living better. From sleep apnea, acid reflux, and bad arthritis pains to diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease, our country is paying the price.
When I did my fellowship and researched obesity, I read a statistician's report that every American adult would be obese in a matter of decades if the rate of obesity didn't slow down. If this occurs, maybe the government will have to replace fluoride in the water with medicines to treat diabetes, cholesterol, and heart failure.
So what will 2011 bring? Will people stop eating fast food and start cooking at home? Will families eat at the table to ensure everyone has a nutritious meal without overeating? Will Americans stop drinking seven million calories a day in all those sweet drinks? Will people exercise or do some physical activity instead of watching TV, playing video games, or shopping online?
You know what? I doubt the majority of Americans will. It's like making Richard Simmons take off those shorts and tank top: change is hard.
Nonetheless, I will continue to encourage one patient at a time or one friend at a time to take some measure to lose weight and keep it off. We are too great a nation to be smothered to death by our own bodies.
Dr. Hook cracks a joke or two, but he's a renowned physician with an interesting website, drjohnhong.com. Email him with your questions.