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No Country For Thin Men: 75% Of Americans To Be Obese By 2020

Tyler Durden's picture


While much heart palpitations are generated every month based on how much of a seasonal adjustment factor is used to fudge US employment, many forget that a much more serious long term issue for the US (assuming anyone cares what happens in the long run) is a far more ominous secular shift in US population - namely the fact that everyone is getting fatter fast, aka America's "obesity epidemic." And according to a just released analysis by BNY ConvergEx' Nicholas Colas, things are about to get much worse, because as the OECD predicts, by 2020 75% of US the population will be obese. What this implies for the tens of trillions in underfunded healthcare "benefits" in the future is all too clear. In the meantime, thanks to today's economic "news", fat people everywhere can get even fatter courtesy of ever freer money from the Chairman, about to be paradropped once more to keep nominal prices high and devalue the dollar even more in the great "race to debase". Our advice - just pretend you are going to college and take out a $100,000 loan, spending it all on Taco Bells. But don't forget to save enough for the latest iPad, and the next latest to be released in a few weeks, ad inf.

From ConvergEx:

Summary: It’s a shocking anomaly that a highly developed country with the world’s largest GDP also has the world’s most obvious obesity endemic. Nearly 34% of United States citizens are obese, which is triple the rate of most of its peer countries. Notably, Americans both drink and smoke less than much of the industrialized world, making this problem all the more puzzling. The causes appear to be largely cultural, with low food costs playing a supporting role. Obesity in the U.S. is more prevalent along certain groups, but by some estimates an astounding 3 out of 4 Americans will be obese or overweight by 2020. The obvious comparison here is to smoking, a public health challenge that has declined in popularity for decades due to higher taxes and public awareness of the risks involved. The answers to the obesity problem will be much tougher, however. And with widespread use of government money for Food Stamps (+20% of all households) and school lunches (+30% of all children), the Federal government is squarely in the middle of the debate.

Consider some wacky “all-American” dining options. Burger King’s Manhattan Whopper Bar offers an aptly-named “Pizza Burger”– a ginormous cheeseburger accentuated by pepperoni and chopped into 6 slices. Denny’s spices up the classic but boring grilled cheese by driving 4 mozzarella sticks into the already gooey cheddar goodness (Fried Cheese Melt). And IHOP delivers fluffy pancakes stuffed with hunks of cheesecake drowning in whipped cream and splashed with powdered sugar (New York Cheesecake Pancakes). Not to mention they’re only 4 bucks.

Not to be outdone, Las Vegas is home to another appropriately named (and self-proclaimed) producer of “nutritional pornography” – the Heart Attack Grill. Menu options include a “Quadruple Bypass Burger,” “ButterFat Shake” and all-you-can-eat “Flatliner Fries.” If you’re over 350 pounds you eat for free, and shots are served in 4 ounce pours. The restaurant made headlines last month when a 40-something man suffered a heart attack (what else?) while chowing down in its dining room. Go ahead, you can chuckle – he’s alive and kicking somewhere out West. At the time of his heart attack he’d been eating the 6,000 calorie “Triple Bypass Burger” featuring 3 half-pound patties, half a fried onion, cheese, and 15 slices of bacon.

So is it really any surprise that 1 in 3 Americans are obese? The United States has a bigger obesity problem than any other industrialized country in the world, with a 33.8% obesity rate, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Note that obesity is defined according to a body mass index (BMI), which calculates human body fat based on weight and height. BMI readings of 30 or greater signify obesity, while a score between 25 and 30 indicates “overweightness.”

A typical man of 5’10” should weigh, for example, about 170 pounds. The U.S.’s next closest “competitor” is Mexico with a 30% obesity rate, while Canada and the U.K. have rates of 24% and 23%, respectively. Other highly developed countries such as Germany, Italy and France have rates below 15%, and Japan is all the way down at 3.9%. India’s citizens are the trimmest, with a 2.1% obesity rate. The average for the 34 OECD member countries is 16.9% – exactly half that of the United States.

Obesity is one obvious culprit for the exorbitant amount of money that Americans spend on health care. Health expenditures (including capital investment in health care infrastructure) are just shy of $8,000 a year per person, which is almost 50% more than in any other country, and represents nearly one-fifth of total GDP. Expenditures in Norway and Switzerland, numbers 2 and 3 on the list, represent a little more than $5,000 per person. The Brits spend about $3,500 a person, while the Japanese spend just $2,900 per person. Indonesia brings up the rear with only $99 spent per capita, although that comparison is obviously skewed by its emerging economy status.

Despite access to high-quality health care services, facilities and infrastructure, Americans live 78.2 years on average, or more than a year less than the OECD member nation average of 79.5 years. Our neighbors to the north and nearly all of our European counterparts live somewhere between 80 and 82 years, while the Japanese live longer than anyone else (83 years).

Just to quickly check off a couple of obvious other behavioral/health boxes, we know our lives generally aren’t cut short by smoking or excessive alcohol consumption. Sixteen percent of Americans are daily smokers, compared with the OECD average of 22.1%. In France, for example, more than 1 in 4 people are regular smokers, while a whopping 40% of Greeks fess up to having at least one daily smoke. Comparatively we don’t drink that much either. On average for ages 15 and up, Americans consume 8.8 liters (298 ounces) of alcohol annually. The OECD average is 9.1 liters, and the French top the chart (surprise, surprise) at 12.3 liters.

There’s no denying that the mortality rate phenomenon is at least somewhat of an obesity issue. In the U.S., Japan and select industrialized European countries, the correlation between obesity rates and life expectancy is greater than 80% (refer to this chart and several others following the text ). Obesity is a disease and while it isn’t often listed as a “Cause of Death” the outcomes are deadly. Since the cardiovascular system is the number one affected area when someone is overweight, it should come as no surprise that more people die from heart attacks in the U.S. than in most other countries. For every 100,000 Americans, 129 die from a heart attack. The OECD average is 117, while in the “fit” countries of Japan and Korea heart attack fatalities occur in fewer than 40 out of 100,000 people.

As far as root causes, it’s a basic economic principle that people consume more of things that are cheaper, and food in the U.S. is relatively cheap compared to the rest of the world. The food component represents 14% of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), meaning that on average 14% of our total expenditures is spent on food.However, the “Food at home” component of the CPI is a mere 8%, and since most Americans eat most of their meals at home, this is likely a more logical number to use. In China and India, on the other hand, food weightings in their respective inflation indexes are 31% and 27%. Yes, this is clearly the result of lower incomes and food prices set to a large degree by global trends; the correlation/causation to consumption is still valid, however. The Chinese and Indians rank in the bottom 3 in terms of obesity rates, at 2.9% and 2.1%, respectively. As for more economically comparable countries, Canada (17% of CPI), Australia (17%), Italy (16%) and the U.K. (11%) have more similar food component cost weightings to the U.S.’s, and their citizens are substantially slimmer. Either way (economic or cultural explanation), mass industrialization of farms and food processing in the States has resulted in a dramatic lower food prices and an unmistakable trend to overconsumption.

Perhaps Americans work so much that we simply don’t have time to be active. After all, we work more than anyone else in the world, right? Wrong. We take less time off, but in terms of hours worked per week, we have it pretty good. At an average of 33.6 hours per week, Americans actually work less than the French (37.6 hours per week), who have a reputation for more slack work habits. People in the U.S. also work less than those in Japan (40.7 hours per week) and Turkey (49.7 hours per week), but the Japanese and Turkish have much lower obesity rates, as do the French.

However, while we work just as much as (if not more than) most other people, Americans take fewer vacation days. Including paid public holidays and voluntary vacation time, workers in the U.S. have an average of 25 days off per year. This compares with 40 in France, 36 in the U.K. and 31 in Italy, for example. Brazilians take the most time off (41 days), while Canadians take the least (19 days). Vacation time doesn’t appear to be correlated to obesity, but helps to validate the notion that Americans are among the hardest-working people in the world, even if hours worked are in line with other countries.

We’re left with a rather unspecific, and somewhat unsatisfying, conclusion that the obesity endemic in America is caused by broad cultural factors and personal responsibility issues. High-risk groups include African-American and Mexican-American women, who have respective obesity rates of 46% and 35%, and those in lower income groups. Women with lower levels of educational achievement are 1.3 times more likely to be obese, though virtually no disparity exists among men of varying education levels. And Southerners and Midwesterners carry more weight than their Northern and Western counterparts.

Nonetheless, 75% of Americans will be obese or overweight by 2020, according to OECD projections. We’ll have to see how the ongoing national health care debate plays out, but this undoubtedly means more government spending in terms of both preventative care and educational programs. In its food stamp program, the government has already begun educating recipients on nutrition, yet soft drinks, candy, cookies and ice cream are eligible items for purchase with food stamp benefits. I would expect this to change considering we’re on track to be 40% obese in the next decade, and likely even more government intervention will be necessary to curb some culturally-ingrained bad habits.

In an admittedly altruistic way, the U.S. government is a major enabler to the obesity problem. While we’re not debating the necessity of food stamps, they do provide incremental spending power, and the fact that lower-income people are more likely to be obese means that the government has a profound responsibility to ramp up nutritional education and hone in on the obesity problem. With +20% of households using food stamps, keep in mind that any policy shift will be significant for a wide swath of companies from supermarkets to producers of food.

So far government efforts have been mostly ineffective “nudges.” Policies enacted in the past few years that mandate calorie labeling in fast-food and chain restaurants have thus far had no impact on calorie consumption, according to a recently-published study (link below). While relying on people to use nutritional information to make healthier meal choices wasn’t effective, giving customers at a fast-food restaurant the option of downsizing their dishes did in fact work. About a third of customers opted for the smaller portion (versus less than 1% who asked to downsize on their own) and subsequently ate less. And accepting the downsized option had no effect on the amount of food uneaten at the end of the meal, translating into even more calorie savings. People in the study generally didn’t have the self-control to make smarter nutritional choices on their own, but it seems that some sense of self-control was activated when they were pushed to make healthier decisions.

With proof that intervention can in fact work, the Federal government has a role to play, whether it likes it or not. When you’re handing over money for food to 1 in 5 households and when about a third of all children are in notoriously non-nutritious subsidized school lunch programs, there’s certainly a moral responsibility.

Obesity is essentially the “Smoking” of the 21st century. And just as smoking rates were lessened thanks to government intervention, the obesity problem will need governmental action as well. Yes, it’s been written about countless times and there aren’t any immediate investment implications, but this topic is worth having in the back of your mind. The answers here are not as obvious as cigarette smoking; no one is going to back higher food taxes to reduce consumption. But the problem is significant and costly to the U.S. economy.

Link to study on effectiveness of calorie-labeling:


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Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:13 | 2291051 kekekekekekeke
kekekekekekeke's picture

Eat organic/local

don't eat wheat

make your own food so you know where it came from

cook with coconut oil

never eat GMOS (hidden in lots of processed foods)

take chlorella, kelp, and vitamin D

would it kill you to take a walk every once in a while

and hot yoga is wicked, try it


Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:18 | 2291068 kekekekekekeke
kekekekekekeke's picture

and NEVER drink diet sodas or anything with artificial sweeteners (I'm open to xylitol and stevia)

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:18 | 2291071 Moneyswirth
Moneyswirth's picture

Out of curiosity, why no wheat?

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:26 | 2291109 kekekekekekeke
kekekekekekeke's picture

the wheat we find in food today has been bred to be very different to how it was in generations past, many people are gluten or wheat intolerant

I used to be addicted to whole grain organic pasta but I recently gave up wheat and its amazing how much better I feel.  More energy, my stomach doesn't hurt (I had an ulcer that disappeared quickly when I stopped eating wheat), my head feels clearer.  I even found some gluten-free beers that I like!

I'm sure this board hates Mercola but he has some good info out there

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:47 | 2291199 CaptainTripps
CaptainTripps's picture

keke glad to see you are not the ONLY like me who knows about the wheat belly stuff!!!!

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 12:27 | 2291358 Moneyswirth
Moneyswirth's picture

Thanks for the insight.  I'll  be looking into that...

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 15:31 | 2292092 Abiotic Oil
Abiotic Oil's picture

Mercola should have fans here. He's a libertarian, capitalist, Ron Paul guy.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:32 | 2291138 Apply Force
Apply Force's picture

Inflamation - the root cause of many diseases.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 18:25 | 2292642 smiler03
smiler03's picture

Living - the cause of 100% of all diseases.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:39 | 2291169 farmerjohn2112
farmerjohn2112's picture

Lectins bind to insulin receptors and cause leptin resistance. Gluten sucks (ask someone with Celiac's Disease). Phytates cause minerals that your body needs to become unavailable.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:20 | 2291833 Jena
Jena's picture

White flour is supposedely more actively involved in the inflammatory process than whole wheat flour, so if you've got chronic environmental allergies you might try switching to only whole wheat products to see if that's enough of a decrease to make a difference.  

If not, going without wheat products altogether for a couple of weeks might be the answer to chronic allergies, at least during the worst of spring hayfever.

There's a blood test for celiac disease (sensitivity to wheat is part of the problem) but not all wheat issues can be confirmed that way.  It's more process of elimination, so to speak, to see what makes you feel your best.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:56 | 2291961 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

OK as far as it goes, and possibly all true, but BOTH are starchy, carbohydrate loaded calorie sources that both cause insulin production, which causes fat to be stored and STAY stored as long as the battle against blood sugar continues in the body.    So, sure, when eating bread(a mistake when trying to lose weight), prefer the whole wheat for your reasons, but also because the carbs don't hit the blood stream as fast.   Just don't kid yourself that the carb content is less.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 15:28 | 2292084 Jena
Jena's picture

No, I wasn't implying anything about the carb content being less, it was about how foods react biochemically in the body.

If bread is really important to someone, it's better to eat a small amount of it than to try and tough it out and deal with cravings.  Pair it with a protein so the blood sugar spike is less than if it was just the bread alone.  

As for what one ought to eat when trying to lose weight, it's highly personal.  What works for us is calories in, calories out, moderation in everything.  We cook everything from scratch, read all labels, no junk food ever, exercise of some kind every day, save some room for chocoloate and pay attention to whether the jeans are getting tight.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:14 | 2291054 TransWarp101
TransWarp101's picture

By handicapping the population with obesity, the powers that be can eliminate any serious uprising:  Fat people don't/can't protest!

If NYPD had something other than skinny hippies at OWS to deal with, think how much harder their job would be.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:18 | 2291072 Odin
Odin's picture

Yeah I want da Cheezy Poof

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:33 | 2291075 yogibear
yogibear's picture

Airlines will charge more for the obese (First class, Obese class (majority), coach (based on height and weight)).

The obese already pay more for gas to use bigger cars/SUVs.

The fast-food companies are enriching heart surgeons. With being overweight the pharma companies are loading the obese full of expensive drugs. 


Look at the map:

Trends by State 1985–2010

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:22 | 2291850 Jena
Jena's picture

Great map, yogibear.  Depressing, but interesting.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:27 | 2291108 penexpers
penexpers's picture

Wait a minute... South Africa has a life expectancy at birth of 51!? How is that possible!?

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 12:01 | 2291264 azzhatter
azzhatter's picture

high infant mortality rates skew the numbers. Some of these countries with low averages have highest number of infant deaths. If you live to be 30 in SA, you're average goes way up to like 78

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:27 | 2291111 silvertrain
silvertrain's picture

wonder if there is any connection to the record number of peeps on snap?

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:52 | 2291947 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Poor people eat more starchy foods because these are cheaper foods, and eating starches causes insulin production, which causes fat to be stored and stay stored while the body is under blood sugar assault.    Enough decades of that and you get all kinds of chronic degenerative diseases on top of the fat.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:32 | 2291121 razorthin
razorthin's picture

Dumb us down, kill us early and keep us docile.  Isn't that the plan?

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:28 | 2291122 10mm
10mm's picture

Hey those fatsos will make good protection barriers when the SHTF.Orrr,when their rageing hungry they will eat your face off.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:31 | 2291132 Dingleberry
Dingleberry's picture


Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:31 | 2291133 CaptainTripps
CaptainTripps's picture

Has anyone read or heard of the WHEAT BELLY book?


TYLER< you might want to cover this I can give you the quick spiel...but yes, its a consipracy

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:34 | 2291150 Obnoxio
Obnoxio's picture

I'd bet that the American population will never get to a 75% obesity rate. I'm 6' and 190# and I'm considered overweight by BMI. Any athlete who trains with weights such as football players would be considered obese or over-weight even with low body-fat. BMI needs to be adjusted in my opinion. Obesity is a problem for sure, but 75% will never happen.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:37 | 2291162 razorthin
razorthin's picture

Waist to height ratio is more accurate for such people.  Like myself.  I am an "borderline obese" 5 9' 175 lb man who bench presses 1.5 my body weight, has a 55 bpm resting pulse and a resting bp of 105/68.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:29 | 2291621 Obnoxio
Obnoxio's picture

Waist to Height may be better. Walking around Boston or Cambridge I just don't see many obese people around. Maybe the obese don't leave the house much or drive everywhere.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:35 | 2291151 BandGap
BandGap's picture

I stop eating when I want to lose weight. I should write a fucking book. I can lose 3-5 pounds in a week if I make breakfast yogurt and a piece of fruit.  I am not overweight but if I put it on, I take it off.  No big deal. It's not the food, it's that people just don't know when to quit. I have highly intelligent friends that insist on eating crap and going on funky diets. Just....stop....eating.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 12:39 | 2291405 Saro
Saro's picture

As long as you continue to get vital nutrients (either through vitamins or leafy greens), fasting is indeed a safe and exceptional way to lose weight quick.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:43 | 2291153 sitenine
sitenine's picture

Fat, lazy, unambitious, pathetic, stupid, greedy, Americans.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:36 | 2291156 lunaticfringe
lunaticfringe's picture

I'm long fat bits.!/2012/03/chunkymom-stalks-frankenstein.html

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:38 | 2291164 sitenine
sitenine's picture

Not to worry. This problem will take care of itself. Food will be too expensive once the financial collapse is complete, and over consumption will not be possible.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:49 | 2291934 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Wrong.   The cheapest food is that rich in carbohydrates, and carbohydrate consumption is what causes insulin production, and insulin production causes fat to be stored and stay stored.     Poorer people substitute more starchy foods in place of fats and protein and the slower carbs that come from eating fresh vegetables.    This is why poorer people are fatter than richer ones.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 16:03 | 2292186 Mary Wilbur
Mary Wilbur's picture

There are genetic issues also involved. For example, indiginous Americans, this includes most Mexican Americans, since they are of mixed Spanish and indiginous descent, have genes that store fat because originally available food was irregular and the ability to store fat was necessary for survival.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:43 | 2291184 carbonmutant
carbonmutant's picture

Buffalo Wild Wings and six pack...

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:47 | 2291197 shorebreak
shorebreak's picture

There's really no excuse for being fat. C'mon Americans, how can you be so engrossed in *watching* sports with incredible athletes and yet be so fat yourselves. 

I guess I shouldn't worry - the hard times to come will thin out the herd, so to speak...

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:49 | 2291205 Fantasy Planet
Fantasy Planet's picture

Jenny Craig govt. mandate TBA.   

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:49 | 2291208 i-dog
i-dog's picture

Put down the fork!!!

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:49 | 2291210 pan
pan's picture

Blame the food pyramid and the grain based diet.


Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:46 | 2291923 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

..and the American Heart Association and thanks to them most physicians too.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:57 | 2291242 The Matthaus
The Matthaus's picture

Though there is obviously an obesity issue, BMI is a terrible way to gauge it. Any measure that simply takes a ratio with out actually measuring body fat % is going to overstate the problem. According to BMI many elite atheletes would be considered overweight or obese. In fact anyone with moderate muscle mass is likely to be considered overweight. (Conspiracy theorists would have some decent fuel there)

Lebron James 6'8 250 BMI 27.5 considered overweight

Vernon Davis 6'3 250 BMI 31.2 technically obese


Mon, 03/26/2012 - 12:21 | 2291331 FreeNewEnergy
FreeNewEnergy's picture

Good one. Yeah, Vernon Davis, you fat slob, go on a diet!

Muscle mass is something most Americans do not have in abundance, whereas body fat % is approaching orbital velocity.

Pretty simple, as some here have stated in one way or another: Eat right, exercise. Live long and prosper (Mr. Spock was no fatty.).

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:45 | 2291916 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Eat right, and optionally, excercise.   That also works pretty well.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:57 | 2291965 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

the label "obese" was created by the FDA /pharma industry so as to give insurance companies a label - thereby facilitating the medical procedures and "fat drugs" being prescribed and applied to the humans.  there is always a "medical condition label" prior to the "outbreak" of the new "dis-ease" and subsequent $$$ making procedures.

research it.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 11:59 | 2291250 azzhatter
azzhatter's picture

You mean you're not supposed to eat the whole box of twinkies for breaKfast? I thought 12 was just right

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 12:08 | 2291287 Father Lucifer
Father Lucifer's picture



Fast food, the new nicotine. I'll take my Marlboro thank you.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 12:40 | 2291403 Campagnolo
Campagnolo's picture

lazy people eating shitty food what can you expect...

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 12:54 | 2291470 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

McDonald's competed and won.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:43 | 2291913 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Skip the coke, the fries, and the bun and you've won.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 15:53 | 2292153 Mary Wilbur
Mary Wilbur's picture

Skip soft drinks. Drink water. Eat 2 meals a day and lay off the desserts. I lost 60 lbs this way without exercising.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:08 | 2291530 skunzie
skunzie's picture

/Sarc On  Easy solution to this problem folks.  Let's just debase the charts like the Bernank is debasing our currency.  Let the charts be recalibrated so that a 5' 10" man weighing in at 250 would be classified as low to moderately underweight. Then we could tie the charts to inflation much the same way SS, and Medicare, are tied to it.  In the end we'll all end up the size of Jabba the Hut, but we can feel good about it because the charts will indicate we are all within skinny to normal ranges.  /Sarc Off.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:35 | 2291532 nothing can go wrogn
nothing can go wrogn's picture

Much of the "fatness" you see in people is not just extra pounds, but a chronic state of inflammation. They are literally swollen, because their bodies are under contant seige from stuff like corn byproducts...many of which like corn syrup, is not a food or a sugar, but a chemical that our bodies have never dealt with in a million years of primate evolution.

It's a sign of malnutrition like the swollen stomachs of African kids you may have seen on the TeeVee. Take them off the processed chemicals and in a matter of days the swelling subsides.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:42 | 2291906 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Sure there is inflammation in an obese body.   They got that way via a constant war of their endocrine systems against the high carb diets that caused them to store so much fat.   Fat is still the main part of their weight problem though, however much could be attributed to, basically, greater water content due to inflamation.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:20 | 2291579 Nobody For President
Nobody For President's picture

A thought occurred while reading through this:

The rise of obesity and junk food and the rise of junk financial 'products' (i.e. derivatives) seems to be parallel.

I mean, CDSs, leveraged ETFs, tranched piles of MBS crap, and all the rest of the 'value derived from other stuff that has value derived from maybe a re-hypothecated asset somewhere' 'financial products' are not so different from MSGs and corn syrup additives and pink slime and all the amazing chemical crap added to what once was real food.


Yet we (maybe not you and I, but a lot of americuns) consume this stuff with gusto. Maybe, as the 'American Dream' ends, we collectively seek solace in stuffing ourselfs with phoney food and phoney investments until we blow up.

Maybe I should have a brandy with my breakfast...

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:20 | 2291580 QuietCorday
QuietCorday's picture

Okay. I have issues with the stats in this piece and I think they have led to the wrong conclusion.

For a start, Iran and Turkey are seeing a comparable obesity problem to the US. I think obesity in Turkey is getting to be around the 30 percent mark (this is the "obese" figure only and doesn't include "overweight"), with Iran not too far behind -- obese mothers out with their obese children was becoming a common sight in Tehran five years ago.

Again, India's rate is kept low by the spread spectrum across different socio-economic groups, cultures, religions and areas. To get a rather alarming stat, look at obesity rates in the Punjab or Kerala, for example; they are well over 30 percent for women and the men are not too far behind. Again, differences in adipose tissue rates between women of different religions and cultures in India is rather obvious now, say between Hindu and Buddhist women sometimes living in the same areas -- and remember these are places where all the cooking is still done in the home, regardless of religion or culture.

Again, according to the IOTF, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece and Malta have higher rates of overweight or obese males than the US.

Furthermore, and this one really surprised me, female obesity rates in Bahrain have hit 35 percent.

So I would suggest something else is going on, and it is very unfair to say the problem is just affecting Americans, because it simply is not. 75 percent of all women in Britain are now overweight, with 25 percent obese, and the figure is growing year on year.

I think the overall cause for this global problem is complex, but I suspect the fundamental problem is actually malnutrition, caused by poor and stupid governmental nutritional advice, heavy processed carbohydrate consumption (particularly grain products and excessive sugar consumption), poor meat quality, reduced meat consumption, the move away from saturated fat, reduced soil quality leading to low carrier fruit and veg, and new frankenstein ingredients introduced into the food supply (such as HFCS). What this could be doing is causing the body to send perpetual hunger signals to the brain in order to obtain missing nutrients, or seriously messing around with the hormonal processes that govern digestion and fat storage in the body.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:55 | 2291732 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

You can increase "obesity" rates overnight by changing the definition of what counts as "obese."

I hover right around the "obese" level despite a fairly low level of body-fat because I have a larger frame than average and have worked out.

I used to be fat and have a healthy BMI.  I spent a few years in the gym, am no longer fat, and have an overweight (and occasionally obese) BMI.

I personally think the primary cause of obesity (globally) is BULLSHIT.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:23 | 2291592 CheapBastard
CheapBastard's picture

Barry begs Russians to give him "space" until after the elections:


President Obama Asks Medvedev for 'Space' on Missile Defense - 'After My Election I Have More Flexibility'

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:06 | 2291779 connda
connda's picture

What?  Then he can implement it with complete impunity?  LOL

I'm sure Putin won't fall for that considering that he's probably cut from the same bolt of cloth.

Interesting -- Neither Barry or Putin are fat?  Dick (keep a heart on ice for me) Cheney? Different story. 

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:28 | 2291620 bugs_
bugs_'s picture

I'll finally be in the 1% of something!

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:38 | 2291660 q99x2
q99x2's picture

Some say Tangy Tangerine. I say divorce. Divorce is the best cure for being overweight out of anything I've tried so far.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:40 | 2291670 QEsucks
QEsucks's picture

75% rate of obesity in 2020 per OECD is unmitigated bullshit. Rate in this country US is 30% and leveling off over last 10 years. It does however suck that 2/3 of adults; male and female are overweight and don't recognize that fact. When I explain Ideal Body Weight to people, good proxy would be set weight- What did you weigh as a high school senior ? They just gape at me in horror.....

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:44 | 2291697 ObungaBoy
ObungaBoy's picture

the cheap junky food is the only food 30% of the Americans can afford

the genetically modified foods  are the other killer of America

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:37 | 2291898 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Carbohydrates, whether from GMO plants or traditionally bred high yield organisms, cause insulin production, which causes our fat cells to store fat.    This is the primary engine of adiposity.    But you are right in the sense that carbohydrate foods are the cheapest foods.  Which is why poorer people tend to be fatter people just about everywhere.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 13:59 | 2291754 connda
connda's picture

I live in South East Asia.  I see tourists over here that stand out like a sore thumb.  Everyone is FAT.  Even a lot of the Expats over here seem to maintain whatever diet they consumed in the US. 

Moving here did me a world of good.  I eat the local food: lots of fruit, vegetables, and small amounts of meat and fish.  Dropped from 200 lbs when I arrived 4 years ago to my present weight of 180.

Interesting.  The local kids are coming down with Developed Country disease.  I can't believe the number of fat little kids with their slender parents.  Snack food is big business over here and the kids start consuming the junk as soon as they're old enough to grab it off the shelf.

I plan to stay in the 25% bracket.  And I have no plans to move back to Fatville, USA.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:03 | 2291769 Westcoastliberal
Westcoastliberal's picture

15 years ago, people didn't use plastic water bottles.  Today, it's almost obligatory; everyone uses them. Scientists have discovered a chemical used in most of them that has negative effects on the Human body.  So maybe that's a big part of it.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:29 | 2291877 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Maybe, but for sure INSULIN causes our fat cells to store fat, INSULIN is produced when we eat carbohydrates. BPA may play some role but almost certainly the mantra and policies of the federal government and the American Heart Association are primarily responsible for the pre-diabetic condition of so many Americans. Oh, and economics too. Carbs are cheap food. They are why poor people are fatter than wealthier ones everywhere you look, and not just in America.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:16 | 2291814 EndTheMedia
EndTheMedia's picture

Fattened for the slaughter

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:22 | 2291847 bankruptcylawyer
bankruptcylawyer's picture



if you drive everywhere you do not WALK more than half a mile a day. people NEED to walk at least 2.5 miles a day. that is a liesurely full hour of walking sprinkiled throughout the day. meaning---average of 5 minutes per hour half the day. 


yea---WALKING. not exercise, not diet, not other crap, liesurely walking.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:33 | 2291888 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Except that, when we expend more energy excercising, this increases our appetites, and our weight stays the same.

Back in reality land, until the 1960's everbody knew that eating too much starchy food caused fat gain, and cutting back on starchy foods caused fat loss, independent of excercise regimes or expenditure in labor intensive jobs.   Since the 60's our diet and excercise propaganda has mostly been dead wrong on how to have low fat BODIES.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 14:23 | 2291852 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

The cheapest food provides chiefly carbohydrate calories.

This is a government-caused, and American Heart Association-caused, disaster of epoch proportions.

In the first case cheap food from industrial agriculture has been government policy for a long time, and thus also educational policy too. In the other case, the American Heart Association has been preaching bad science for so many decades it has become heresy to tell the truth.

"Everbody" knows eating meat is bad for you, and saturated fats are a huge killer, except that for most humans this appears to be FALSE. Everybody knows whole grain food is good for you whereas refined flour based food isn't, except that both are loaded with carbs and cause insulin production. And on and on.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 15:36 | 2292108 zerozulu
zerozulu's picture

I had best time of my life while living in NYC. I could not find parking close to my home in NYC. Parking was exactly one mile from my residence. So rain or shine I walked one mile in the morning and one mile late evening. I never felt so energetic in my life.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 16:09 | 2292213 Money 4 Nothing
Money 4 Nothing's picture

Yup, it's called "The Hunger Game effect"

Mad Max economy comming soon.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 16:18 | 2292246 AchtungAffen
AchtungAffen's picture

Will them American soylent green's taste better if the raw materials are fatter to begin with?

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 18:37 | 2292684 BackOffice Slut
BackOffice Slut's picture

Funny that a fat ass would write an article concerning obesity. I guess nick would know what he's talking about, yet I find it ironic. Only in America can you be poor and fucking fat.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 18:37 | 2292685 Marc_W
Marc_W's picture

"Americans live 78.2 years on average, or more than a year less than the OECD member nation average of 79.5 years."

So?  Those last few years are spent in suffering, misery, and dimentia anyway.  I say this proves that obesity isn't all that bad if it only shaves a measly 1 year off the average life span.  Bring some better statistics.


I've seen big fat beer guzzling men live into their 80's with only 1 heart attack :P sometime in their 50's.  I'd be okay with that.


For the foodies out there, I see nothing to worry about.  Keep your BMI under "obese" levels and work out 3 times a week and live to be 80 while still enjoying your food and drink.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 18:40 | 2292698 Marc_W
Marc_W's picture

Wealthier people tend to be slender and fit.  The obesity of the peasantry is merely another way for the elite to separate themselves from their inferiors.  Just another identifier in the Neo-Feudal system being erected globally.  Like accents in the U.K., one knows immediately upon hearing someone speak what social class they likely belong to.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 22:22 | 2293195 OrestesPenthilu...
OrestesPenthilusQuintard's picture

They hate us for our freedom (fries).

Mon, 05/21/2012 - 08:38 | 2446969 shawn002
shawn002's picture

With the ever increasing junk food and fast lifestyle going to create lot of problems in future.


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