America: Now Fatter than Ever

We are too fat. The CDC is reporting today that the United States is now officially more than one-quarter obese. In the latest issue of the MMWR, the numbers are staggering: 25.6 percent of American adults are clinically obese, according to a body-mass-index assessment, up from 23.9% in 2005 and way up from 15.3% in 1995.

And note that's obese, not overweight: when you include those numbers, defined as a BMI greater than 25, the percentage approaches two-thirds of all American adults.

The map itself paints a dramatic picture. I've stuck the new 2007 map below of the previous version from 2005, and you can see the slow creep of fat across the nation.

So much for Healthy People 2010, an effort by the CDC, started back in 2000, to get the country towards 15% adult obesity rate. I've been skeptical in the past of efforts to treat obesity as a disease; it seems just the sort of lifestyle condition that creeping medicalization doesn't need to sweep up. But these stats are changing my mind: We Americans just can't seem to stop eating. Whatever's going on - genetically, environmentally, metabolically - it's not something finger-wagging and brochures can take care of. What's more, this is going to be *extremely* expensive.

I think it's high time somebody came up with some innovative behavior-modification strategies, short of pharmaceuticals, that might start to turn this tide. More on that later.

Charts via CDC Seat photo from DrBaloney via Flickr

Thomas Goetz1 Comment