Obesity in America: New Reports Say We’re Fatter Than Ever

Child actor Joe Cobb meets the world's fattest man in 1925, before obesity rates skyrocketed

Child actor Joe Cobb meets the world’s fattest man in 1925 before obesity rates skyrocketed | General Photographic Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It’s no secret that the United States is, and has been, grappling with an obesity problem. A huge percentage of the population is either obese or overweight, and though we’ve known about the issue for years, there has been little headway in turning things around. It’s become a large-scale public health issue, which has its roots in the individual decisions that each and every one of us makes every day regarding what and how we eat, exercise, and even sleep.

Yet, despite the calls for a public intervention from doctors, scientists, and policymakers, new reports confirm that we’re actually getting fatter — rather than making the necessary changes to get healthier as a nation.

According to new reports from the Centers for Disease Control, a whopping 38% of American adults are now obese. On top of that, 17% of the nation’s kids are obese as well. In one report, the CDC found that while 35% of American men are now tipping the scales and are considered obese, it’s even worse for females. 40% of the nation’s women are obese.

The CDC actually released two different reports, one detailing obesity trends in American adults between 2005 and 2014, and the other tracking obesity in children and adolescents. Both reports are relaying the same message, however: Americans are getting more and more overweight, and it doesn’t look like things are going to turn around in the short-term.

The obesity crisis

BBQ burger on white dish

Hamburger | Source: iStock

With obesity now a full-fledged public crisis, the question still remains as to what we should actually do about it. Clearly, education either isn’t working or simply isn’t getting through to many people. There are, of course, numerous factors that play into the crisis as a whole — socioeconomic status, for example, and the availability (or lack thereof) of fresh, healthy foods in certain parts of the country.

What’s particularly worrying about these new CDC studies is just how big of an issue obesity is becoming for children. With nearly one-fifth of the country’s children being considered obese, we can almost count on the fact that they’re going to require additional and expensive measures to battle obesity-related illnesses and diseases.

And that’s one of the big things about the obesity crisis that ropes all Americans — even those who are not overweight or obese — into the issue. The obesity epidemic is costing the economy, and thereby everyone as a whole, a whole lot of money. Largely, we know what the root causes are, too. We keep gaining weight because we don’t eat the foods we should (or in acceptable portions), many of us eschew exercise, and we suffer from a chronic lack of sleep.

All of those factors, working in cohesion, have helped the obesity problem reach epidemic levels. But again, it all comes down to each individual making choices for themselves. That’s why this is such a difficult and delicate issue to try and resolve.

What you can do

A man prepares to go for a run

A man prepares to go for a run | iStock

As solving the problem will largely rest on the individual — though the government and private organizations are doing what they can to help turn things around — it’s important to know how and what you can do to ward off obesity.

At the most basic level, maintaining a healthy weight or body-mass index is as simple as burning off more energy, or calories, than you take in. That means that through planning and executing proper behaviors regarding our diet, our weight can be maintained simply by controlling what and how much we eat. Of course, there are a number of things that can throw that equation off. Some people have physical or psychological issues that make it more difficult, for example, and many Americans can’t afford healthy foods.

This is what makes tackling the problem so difficult. Though we know that obesity can and does do absolutely horrifying things to our bodies, many people can’t or won’t make the necessary dietary changes. Add exercise into the mix as well, and it gets even more difficult. Lots of people don’t have the time, or the money, to maintain a gym membership.

Overall, these new CDC reports are only reaffirming what most of us already know: America is fat, getting fatter, and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot anyone is willing to do about it.

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