Americans even bigger lardasses than we thought

U.S. far fatter than previously thought:

The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. states has been greatly underestimated. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) analyzed data from health surveys, which are used to estimate obesity levels in states. Because people tend to provide incorrect information about their weight and height, especially in telephone surveys, the researchers concluded that estimates of obesity in individual states have been too low, by more than 50%. Their study, which corrects for misreporting in those surveys, appears in the May 2006 issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Based on this new understanding of the survey data, the authors found that, on average, women tend to underestimate their weight while men do not. When it comes to height, young and middle-aged men tend to overestimate their height more than women in the same age group. In 2002, the corrected prevalence of obesity in the U.S. population was 28.7% for adult men and 34.5% for adult women, more than 50% higher than previously estimated.

The research, which presents the first-ever corrected estimates of obesity for individual states, found that Southern states have the highest levels of obesity in the country. Using the authors’ corrected data for 2000, the highest obesity levels for men were found in Texas (31%) and Mississippi (30%). For women, Texas (37%), Louisiana (37%), Mississippi (37%), District of Columbia (37%), Alabama (37%) and South Carolina (36%) led the pack. States with the lowest prevalence of corrected obesity for men in 2000 were Colorado (18%), District of Columbia (21%) and Montana (21%); for women Colorado (24%), Montana (25%) and Massachusetts (27%).

It’s amazing to me that the numbers above don’t even include the overweight, just those who qualify as obese. Obesity is a public health crisis (repeat: public health crisis) like no other. It’s remarkable for the size of the population afflicted, it’s impact on the economy, and that fact that it’s nearly 100% the result of lifestyle choices.

And that’s the point I keep coming back to whenever the issue comes up. I can and do hold the food industry responsible for their part in it, as well as the government for adopting policies which aggravate the problem… but at the end of the day it does just come down to personal responsibility and choices.

And the frustrating thing is the way people don’t take responsibility for it. Sorry, but you don’t all have glandular problems. You don’t all have metabolic issues. The vast, vast majority of you, simply, eat too much, eat too often, eat too many crap foods, (and amazingly, get malnourished from not enough of the right foods) and sit on your asses all day on top of that. The only way (the only way) you’re going to lose the weight is by eating less of a greater variety of foods (stuff you have to cook, not instant crap) while regularly exercising. There’s no miracle diet <cough>Atkins</cough> where you’ll magically get skinny by cutting out one food group while continuing to stuff your face. There’s no pill, there’s no cure, there’s no solution other than self discipline and eating less.

At the end of the day I shouldn’t even care – if someone wants to kill themselves through fat it shouldn’t be any of my business. But the negative consequences for society from these personal choices are many and monumental, from the drain on our healthcare system, to the economic impact, to the cultural and and social problems that result from it. The bigger problem is that there’s no global solution for it, other than individuals en masse choosing to to adopt healthier lifestyles. Which is likely never to happen.

Sorry. It’s a pet peeve of mine. But I know I’m right. And I’m sure I’ll get flak for it. I always do when I talk about this; people don’t like the reality of themselves or the situation.

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