Casual Essay — Aime Lonsdorf

Although many aspects of American society are getting healthier: McDonald’s has become a considerably healthy establishment, the last fifteen years or so has seen a spike in the organic and natural foods industry and, in part due to First Lady Michelle Obama’s “get fit” programs, it has become increasingly more important for Americans to exercise and consume healthier foods- and yet, in 2011, obesity rates increased in 16 states and the rates did not decline in any state (F as in Fat). According to F as in Fat: How obesity threatens America’s future 2011, a report from Trusts for Americans Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), 12 states  now have obesity rates above 30 percent; merely four years ago, only one state had a percent ranking that high. Shocked by these statistics the report examined exactly how obesity has grown over the  past two decades (F as in Fat).

 

Twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rating of above 15 percent. This year, in contrast, 38 out of the 50 US states produced obesity ratings of over 25 percent. For the 7th year in a row, Mississippi has maintained its leading spot as the number one state with the highest level of adult obesity (F as in Fat). The report noted that the fastest growing obesity levels reside in the south: Alabama and Tennessee have experienced intensified rates; this year, the slowest growing levels occurred in Washington DC, Colorado and Connecticut. The highest obesity rates remain in racial and ethnic minority adults, along with low income families (F as in Fat).

 

While American’s might be seemingly be increasingly getting fatter, many public health experts are claiming that it might be too soon to see an increase in American obesity levels due to the fact that the nations efforts to slim down have only begun in recent years (Rochman). The fact that obesity rates are not reclining has nothing to do with the fact that public health programs are not promoting healthier diets along with more physical activity. Or, that an individual’s personal goals and efforts to obtain their dream weight are not working. Dr. William Dietz, director of the division of nutrition for the CDC, claims that efforts to ward off obesity are in fact working fine. Comparing the anti obesity efforts to the 1950 anti-smoking efforts when medical professionals released the conclusive evidence about the link between smoking and caner, the doctor asserts that for approximately 15 years, smoking rates remained at a plateau and even increased for sometime (Rochman). It is the same concept with tackling the issue of obesity in America: it needs time and further developed tactics to achieve reduced levels.

 

Ironically, these medical professionals are basing their evidence off of a faulty scale for evaluating a person’s body fat percentage. The BMI system, which is a ratio of height to weight uses criteria that is neither gender or age specific in men and women over the age of 15. The system also fails at identifying the difference between a person’s muscle mass with their actual body fat; since muscle weighs more than fat, a physically fit and healthy human would appear obese. Based on the fact that the nation’s current obesity levels were raked based on a system that is not accurate, it is impossible to accurately identify weather or not Americans are actually getting fatter or fitter.

F as in Fat. “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011.” – Trust for America’s Health. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Etc. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://www.healthyamericans.org/report/88/>.

Rochman, Bonnie, Maia Szalavitz, and Alice Park. “CDC: U.S. Obesity Rates Plateau Overall, But Men and Boys Are Getting Fatter | Healthland | TIME.com.” Time. Time. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://healthland.time.com/2012/01/17/u-s-obesity-rates-remain-stubbornly-high

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