We live in a different world now than 50 years ago – in some ways that’s good, and in some ways it is not. I was recording my newest podcast, which will be ready on Saturday, and as I was talking about being obese back in the 1990s, I said into the microphone, “I was in the minority among people I knew, because the obesity rates were not as high as they are now.”
After I finished the recording, I thought back to that statement and realized it really was true. It got me curious, so I spent some time researching statistics and found this information from the CDC.
That’s a tremendous shift in the number of people who are obese and when you add in the people who are overweight, more than half of Americans struggle with their weight. I see it everywhere I go. At baseball games, in the mall, at church, in stores, among my friends – everywhere.
The rise in obesity rates has made people who are an average weight be in the minority. If 66 percent of people are either obese or overweight, there are only 34 percent of people who are at a healthy weight.
Children are also affected by obesity. I see the physical realities when I’m in a school and see kids who don’t fit easily into the small desks. I see it when I’m at the mall and parents are complaining to the sales clerk that there aren’t clothes big enough for their 10 year old child who needs an adult plus size. And I see it when I’m at the grocery store and a mom is passing out Little Debbie snack cakes and orange soda to her children who are all markedly overweight.
For adults, the physical realities of obesity manifest themselves into the need for bigger seats at theaters (Reuters news article here), longer car seat belts, more substantial operating tables, larger furniture, and of course bigger clothes. I’ve known friends who had to forgo medical tests or undergo alternative medical procedures because they couldn’t fit into the testing apparatus or the anesthesiologist could not place the epidural line successfully because of their weight.
Of course both children and adults who are obese are at an increased risk for health problems.
I often wonder if the high rate of obesity/overweight makes us grow accustomed to seeing people who are overweight and we no longer think that it really matters whether most of Americans are overweight because “everyone” is.
In some ways, I think it desensitizes us to the large number of overweight people in our social groups. This desensitization can lead to a bit of an apathy when it comes to weight problems. I have met people who say, “Well, my aunt/friend/brother has been overweight their whole life and they are fine. I’m not going to mess with losing weight. It’s too much work and for what?”
After all, if most of our friends are overweight, then one incentive, peer pressure, to get to a healthy weight is gone. I feel as though that fact affects the obesity rates to a degree. I have had people tell me to just eat whatever I want when we are at a restaurant together because “Who cares anymore” if you gain a few pounds?
It’s that kind of attitude that is detrimental to the fight against obesity. Who cares anymore?
The government and doctors care and spend money and time encouraging Americans to exercise and eat in moderation. But the message doesn’t seem to be making a big difference in the number of people who struggle with their weight.
The rising rates of obesity really may make some people say “Who cares?” and keep on eating huge hamburgers, downing sodas, and remaining sedentary.
What do you think? Does the rise in obesity rates cause some people to just accept their weight and give up trying to get to a healthy weight? Diane