The Fat of the Land
Lordy, we're fat.
The annual state-of-our-waistlines report issued last week by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation mapped out the nation's obesity situation, state by state.
It's not a pretty picture. Only in one state, Colorado, are fewer than 1 in 5 adults obese. In 31 states, more than 1 in 4 adults are obese. In no state had the obesity rate decreased since last year.
A quick look at the local numbers: While Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. ranked 25th, 28th and 45th, respectively, in adult obesity (with Maryland at 26 percent, Virginia at 25.4 percent, and D.C. at 22.3 percent), the rates among kids were eye-opening. Washington, D.C. came in 9th in the nation for having 35.4 percent of its kids overweight or obese. Virginia was 23rd, with 31 percent, and Maryland was 36th, with 28.8 percent.
While much of the reporting about the new survey has focused on the fact that the baby-boom generation is mighty plump and likely to further burden the already hard-pressed public health system, I'm even more concerned about the overweight and obesity rates among kids ages 10 to 17, which have tripled since 1980.
As I write in this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, being overweight or even obese doesn't necessarily shorten one's life. But there's no doubt that, either merely by virtue of being fat or because of circumstances that contribute to overweight such as poor diet and low level of physical activity, overweight people tend toward chronic conditions such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some kinds of cancer.
If even greater percentages of kids than of adults are overweight, what does that mean for the future?
Recent poll results: To the question "Do you think overweight people deserve sympathy?," 51 percent of 1,061 respondents said yes, while 43 percent said no. Here's today's poll:
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