The Obesity Epidemic Revisited

The Obesity Epidemic Revisited

This topic has been explored in previous posts, but it one that is worth visiting often as there are no actions being taken to reverse the negative trend. Over 1/3 of Americans are obese and continue to grow more obese. Make no mistake, this disease is within each individual’s control except in very rare cases. There is no question that obesity impairs quality of life and that it contributes to out of control healthcare costs.

You may wonder, as I have, what is being done nationally to reverse the trend? The answer comes in the form of “Health Education”. While not all of the billions of this taxpayer money is spent on combating obesity a substantial portion is. The message of healthy eating, caloric restriction & exercise has been well communicated for the last several decades. The real question is why do we continue to spend money on the same message without achieving any significant results.

The solution to obesity is extremely simple. Cut back caloric intake to under 2,500 calories per day and initiate 30 minutes a day of “effective” exercise. If so, then what is the issue? It seems that we do not have the individual will power to reduce food consumption and we do not have the discipline to set aside 30 minutes a day for an exercise program. No amount of health education can resolve this dilemma. Humans tend to sacrifice longer term benefits for short term gratification. In that regard we Americans are number one.

There is an excellent you tube video that I watch at least once a year and it reinforces why I get up extra early each day for jog. I encourage everyone to watch, digest & implement the message. It will change your life! See at:

Most people have no problem identifying that they are overweight, but how do we know if we have become obese? The BMI (body mass index) is typically used to measure obesity. This can be calculated by some digital scales, estimated by charts available on the Internet or can be calculated by you physician. While the ideal BMI will vary by age a BMI that exceeds the 30 – 35 range is determined to indicate obesity. BMI for a healthy individual typically lies in the 15 – 20 range, with 20 – 30 being overweight. Competitive athletes typical BMI lies in the 10 – 15 range.

The good news is that you can implement a program that only has a cost in time and actually will save money if you are able to reduce caloric intake. Walking is a great way to start. Regardless of a person’s degree of Obesity they should be able to walk at a pace of 5 KPH (about 3 MPH). They may not be able to maintain this pace for 30 minutes, but no worries. Just start doing as much time as you can without overstressing. One method is to add 1 minute each day to your time at a consistent pace, or one minute every other day. The key is to not skip a day. In short order you will find that you are able to achieve the pace for 30 minutes. Once that goal is achieved, the new goal will be to slowly increase your pace until you are able to achieve a consistent pace of 6 KPH (about 3.6 MPH). This pace will typically elevate your heart rate to 50% above your heart rate at rest. This is the level that will result in the best benefit to you heart, immune system & overall health.

This final comment will not win me any new friends. Since obesity is within our control and since it places an undue burden on the taxpayer there should be financial consequences for lack of control. My view is that obese individuals should have to bear an increased burden of the cost of healthcare.

Rank               State                                                  Obesity Rate

1 West Virginia 38.1% +/- 1.7%
2 Mississippi 37.3% +/- 2.0%
3 Oklahoma 36.5% +/- 1.6%
4 Iowa 36.4% +/- 1.3%
5 Alabama 36.3% +/- 1.6%
6 Louisiana 36.2% +/- 1.8%
7 Arkansas 35.0% +/- 2.4%
8 Kentucky 34.3% +/- 1.7%
9 Alaska 34.2% +/- 2.9%
10 South Carolina 34.1% +/- 1.3%
11 Ohio 33.8% +/- 1.3%
12 Indiana 33.6% +/- 1.1%
13 North Dakota 33.2% +/- 1.6%
14 Texas 33.0% +/- 1.8%
15 Nebraska 32.8% +/- 1.2%