Thoughts on the ocean, the environment, the universe and everything from nearly a mile high.

Panorama of The Grand Tetons From the top of Table Mountain, Wyoming © Alan Holyoak, 2011

Friday, April 20, 2012

We are FAT!!!

A number of years ago I spent a couple of years living in Japan.  I remember walking off of the plane in the Narita International Airport, looking around and being struck by the thought, "Everyone here is Japanese!"  "Helloooooo! It's Japan!!!

Anyway, two years later (and without any trips back to the USA in the meantime) I boarded a plane without even noticing that everyone around me was Japanese...I'd gotten used to that fact long before.  I flew non-stop to San Francisco.  When I walked out of the jetway and into the terminal I looked around and my first thought, and it was a true shock, was, "Everyone here is FAT!"

I wasn't prepared for that!  And you know what?  Things have only gotten worse along our national waistline since then.  

Where did this thought come from?  Earlier today I was looking over some data from the UN Population Division and the World Health Organization (WHO).  

The WHO reported the following numbers for adults globally who are "overweight":

While the number of overweight adults was increasing so was the total global population, so I was hoping that the percentage of people overweight was not changing.  Here's what I found out:

Year             Global Population            Overweight Adults       Percentage
2002                   6.2 billion                         1.454 billion                  23.5%
2005                   6.5 billion                         1.602 billion                  24.6%
2010                   6.97 billion                       1.934 billion                  27.7%

Argh!!!!  We are getting fatter and fatter even as our population is growing!

That's a snapshot of the world, but what about the USA?  How are we doing?  

Are we really as fat as I thought we were when I walked off of that airplane way back when?

Here are some national data from the WHO.  These data show the percentage of the population that is overweight in the ten richest countries and the 10 poorest countries in the world:

All I can say is that Americans like to be winners, and there we are, the 6th richest country in the world, and we have the highest percentage of overweight adults of any of the countries listed.

So, yes, we are FAT!!!!!

How are you doing?  How can you know if you are overweight?  

You can check that out by looking at a chart showing BMI values.  That's "Body Mass Index".  It's a function of your height and mass.  These values are calculated using this formula (if you start with weight in pounds and height in inches):

Here's a BMI chart for men:

Here's a BMI chart for women:

It's actually a very strange conundrum.  Americans praise and admire people who are fit, trim, lithe.  But as a people we are...FAT...FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!!!.  How did this happen?  It's no real mystery.  Over the years we have become less active and we have had access to increasing amounts of fatty, salty, sugary, rich processed foods that we have helped ourselves to again and again and again.  So now we are FAT.

What's the solution?  There's really only one sure-fire way to become un-FAT.  That's to burn more calories than you take in.  The most reliable way to do this is to make lifestyle changes...changing diet and activity levels.  

Here's to reversing the trend!

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