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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Our Growing Waistlines

Photo courtesy of MSN

This study hit the news last week: America Grows Fatter.

Mississippi has exceeded the 30% obesity rate for adults, the first time any state's population has done so, reported a health advocacy group. But 19 other states with large obese populations are not far behind.

30%! That's nearly 1 in 3 people that is obese in that state. Even Colorado, the "leanest" state is rocking a 17.6% obesity rate: more than 1 in 6 in Colorado are obese. And the other 48 states (plus DC) fall somewhere in the middle. My homestate of Kentucky is 7th with 27.5%, according to this report. And 1 in 5 of our kids are overweight in Kentucky, which in politically-correct jargon means obese, but we're afraid to call little Tommy obese.

Now, Dr. Eades has taken them to task over the methods of data collection and reporting. I don't disagree with him. The data in studies is often manipulated and massaged to produce what the authors want. And then the media reporting of it is generally geared in such a way as to create a great story, whether the report matches what the study says or not. The underlying reality is that at best, the stats are under-reported and there are even more obese folks walking around than the report says. In fact, I don't think we really even need these studies to tell us that America is getting fatter and fatter. A quick glance around you will tell you all you need to know.

Whether it's 30% or 40% is really irrelevant. It's too high of a percent. Our lack of exercise and poor eating habits are going to lead many in our nation to an early grave. But I can't get behind any kind of government intervention. As I mentioned in the comments of Dr. Eades' blog, the government foray into nutrition advice is much of what has us in this predicament in the first place, not to mention the Farm Bill and subsidies that support the prodigious amounts of cheap sugar and corn (which is turned into sugar) that keep us growing and growing. The Food Guide Pyramid is an excellent example of what's wrong with the government setting policy on our nutrition. Any new attempts will a) not stray far from the current pyramid because the government is far more concerned with saving face than with giving us proper recommendations and b) will go to the highest bidder. We don't need the government to save us. Personal responsibility is what we need. If people would focus on proper nutrition and exercise, their weight issues would miraculously disappear.