This Is Your Country On Fat: Presenting 14 Years Of Exponential American Obesity

Tyler Durden's picture

A week ago we had the displeasure of reminding America that in 8 years three quarters of the population will be obese. We said that "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." Subsequently, The Atlantic decided to do a follow up on what it titled "The True Cost Of Unwalkable Streets" in which author Kain Benfield says: "Perhaps the single most alarming public health trend in the United States today is the dramatic rise in the number of people who are overweight and obese, bringing serious risks of heart disease, diabetes and other consequences leading to life impairment and premature death. This is bad enough as it is, but I contend that it is particularly unfortunate that we do not sufficiently recognize the extent to which these trends are caused by environmental factors, particularly the shape of our built environment."

Alas, resorting to the traditional American pastime of assigning meaningless blame when faced with a probem of epic proportions, instead of attempting to proactively resolve it, is about as expected as that of the four people around you, three will be, quite soon, morbidly fat. Because no matter who, why, when or where the obesity epidemic started, it won't end until the US welfare state is, pardon the pun, sucked dry (see "Welfare - the Great Delusion"). And if ordinary American citizens are shocked by how little Wall Streeters and politicians have changed their behvaiour, they would be speechless if only they looked in the mirror.

So while we don't have quite the suitable reflective device, here is a chart that should do the trick, coming from the same Atlantic piece. If this doesn't get one to rush out and scarf down the local (within 10 kcal or under walking distance) $0.99 McSomthing meal, nothing will.

Lastly, while the partisan bickering over whether Jeff Sessions is right or not in his estimate of a $17 trillion addition of Obamacare to future unfunded liabilities, goes on we wonder... Seriously? Because supposedly while $82 trillion in future unfunded liabilities is perfectly ok, $99 trillion is obviously a partisan hack to derail the great American plot to eat itself to death? Or something.

Instead of encouraging and enabling Americans to believe that any and every health-related issue they develop (of which the bulk originate from simply eating far too much, such as scarfing down on sugar, sugar and more sugar - which just happens to be the topic of tonight's 60 minutes), will be dealt with on someone else's dime, we have another suggestion: offer every American $100 for every pound they lose until they get to just below their ideal weight, and offer them a further $1000 each year to stay below that weight. Total cost: a tiny fraction of whatever Obamacare would cost, and the future benefits to one's credit card, to social healthcare outflows, and to society in general, would be unmeasurable.

And for those who missed it, here is 60 minutes on whether sugar is toxic (full transcript here).

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rumblefish's picture

bulking up before the food shortages hit!


Fat citizens, bloated debt. 

DormRoom's picture

America: living on excess debt and calories.  It's like a pathology. Consumeritis.

UP Forester's picture

"We gotta eat, or the terrrrrist win!"

espirit's picture

Someone's going to be very happy during the Zombieapocalypse.

Gidas19's picture

Meanwhile in Africa...

Gully Foyle's picture


Found this enlightening line regarding Pink Slime

Only someone who has never wanted for food would equate "pink slime" with dog food. Only in the extraordinarily affluent U.S. would people attack an industry for trying to make use of rather than waste food.


Full commentary here

JW n FL's picture



The Rich Get Richer - New Facts or?!?!? The Rich get Fater Pockets!

The Top 1% getting 93% Fatter than the rest of us.. with recovery dollars.

knukles's picture

Who dah fuck's (burp) callin' us (chompchompchomp) fat?  Honey, bring some AAA's for the remote (phhhhhht) while you're waddlin'. (urrrrp)

Oh regional Indian's picture

Mechanization is the primary reason for human fattening.

As your core is lost, loosened, forgotten, your peripharies start to spread. 

Americans = Very low Core Strength.... 



Haywood Jablowme's picture

will read the article as soon as a find that bag of pork rinds....


Oh regional Indian's picture

Hmmmmm.... I just realized that a lot of ZH readership is beer swilling, probably overweight key-jockeys. Thus the red red red.

But it's true Chubsters, obese people are out of touch with their centers and this is usually because your focus is turned outward. It's quite simple when you think about it. 

Losing weight, or starting the process is simply a matter of turning inwards.

I weighed 120 Kg' sat my alcohol addled peak in the US, have a been a steady 75 for the past 8 years. 

Don't get mad, get strong.


BorisTheBlade's picture

Losing weight, or starting the process is simply a matter of turning inwards.

Simply is probably not that simple for most, because when they turn inwards they see nothing but emptiness. In order to fill that ever growing hole they keep eating and consuming. When they get fat, they'll blame everybody around overlooking disaster of their own making. Although you're right in a sense that it all ends and starts with oneself.

12ToothAssassin's picture

I lost 30 lbs (13.6 kg) in a year a few years ago and feel so much better. It was not easy to begin but once I got going it was easier to maintain. It is very much a mind set, as soon as you recognize how that works then it gets much easier.

European American's picture

An avaricious mind will beget an avaricious body.


kiwidor's picture

Sex with fat indians isn't fun.

the alcohol reference is irrelevant.  real alcoholics are thin, not fat.  if anything, alcohol in the usa is what keeps people alive

i'd hazard a guess that not moving is what kills people.  not moving is what makes people fat.  even in my old age here, i keep moving no matter how much it hurts. if you don't move, you die.  if you dont' move, you get fat, then die. horribly. 

at 43, i can still build a fence in an afternoon and not suffer the next day.  try getting a gym bunny to do that.

real work is about natural movement and that's what's missing from the USA, hence the obesity.





Oh regional Indian's picture

What a dumb opening statement kiwi. 

Given that your mind is in the sewer, the rest of our well said commentary is as good as shit.

Fight club is NOT low-life club.


JW n FL's picture



hey! wanna hamburger?

how about some fire water?


Hi Ho Silver's picture

..corruption prevents food aid from reaching the hungry.

NumberNone's picture

Why does it always come back to the banks?   Bad news America is that the banks have speculated the price of food out of your reach...good news is that you all now can get on a diet. 

Amazing, banks take loans from US public.  Banks take funds to speculate which drives up food prices and thereby exasperating the national debt and sending people to eat shit foods for the low prices.  Fucking disgusting.

Stax Edwards's picture

Hmmmm.  Td may be on to something here. 

Back of the napkin says that on top of whatever normal amount of obesity one should expect in the US we also have 50m out of 300m who eat on .gov's dime (i.e. they do not work for their food, the politicos have arranged for the productive part of society to pay for their meals).  50/300 = 17% are not actually working for their food.  One can easily see how obesity would be a problem in the US as it is often caused by lack of exercise (aka work) among other things.  It would not be surprising to a layman if US obesity levels ran, I dont know, say 17% higher, seeing that in our kinder gentler welfare state recipients are simply given debit cards to buy junk food at their convenience rather than providing merely staple foods for sustinencs such as beans and rice.  A layman might also draw the conclusion that welfare recipient who does not work and eats junk food provided by .gov all day might decide work is for chumps and just let themselves go, seeing as that takes the absolute least amount of effort with the best reward (no work, junk food all day).  So a layman might even further draw from this that, I don't know, say 17% of the population of the US would be more than willing to get off their fat ass once every four years and vote for whoever is in favor of maintaing or better yet increasing the 'free shit gravy train' they have parked their fat ass on. 

Same layman might think if .gov required that they work to get the food, they might have to get off of their fat asses and work (aka exercise) and that the obesity problem would begin to move in the opposite direction.

Seems that similar problems exist in the wilderness, but alas, the politicians have became gravely concerned with this (obesity of and dependance by wild animals on productive humans feeding them) feeding and as such it is a felony to feed, I don't know, say bears in our national parks.  And a layman might draw the conclusion that this is because bears cannot vote.

Edit: Certainly their are other conclusions said layman might draw, feel free to pick up on anything I might have missed in your replies below.



Gully Foyle's picture

Stax Edwards

Dude try equating this with the  technological revolution of that decade. More entertainment, more people sitting at the computer.

It isn't the rise in welfare so much as the rise of technology that replaced leisure activity with leisure.

Jim Morrison has a line in one of his poems about dancing around a fire becoming sitting wathcing tv.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Too many calories from carbs is more the culprit than not enough exercise.   Eating carbs causes insulin production which causes adipocytes to store fat.    More exercise, on the other hand, increases appetite to match the additional energy usage.

12ToothAssassin's picture

Moderation in ALL things is the key. Carbs, protein excercise, etc. Even it ALL out and you win.

European American's picture

Chronic, compulsive, carnivorous overeating is a reflection of a mental aberration, emotional imbalance, or psychological flaw.

Death and Gravity's picture

Agreed with exception of the carnivorous part.

Rubbish's picture

My Ghillie suit is a little tight

UP Forester's picture

Order a new one, now.  Pretty soon they'll stop making "shrubbery" suits, and start making "oak stump" suits.

Pairadimes's picture

Best to wait for the new 'burning city' camo pattern, due to come out soon

Manthong's picture

Gotta' fill out them baggy ghetto duds..

Over 350 lbs. eats free.

francis_sawyer's picture

Anyone care for an after dinner mint?

i-dog's picture

... it's way-fair theen!

GeezerGeek's picture

Ghille suit? What are you, a terrorist? I'm telling Big Brother.

Ignatius's picture

The factory food system is a horror on many levels and is anchored in the heart of American life.

Why would one wonder?

DaveyJones's picture

It's as if the body knows it is eating poisoned cardboard when it eats off the typical GMO corn syrup shelf and it wants to take in more and more to get its nutrition. I find that the more I eat from my garden and eat nutritious plant food, the less hungry and the quicker my system feels satisfied. The Okinawans are by far the longest living people on earth. They have four times the centenarians than any other group. Very few of them are obese and most of them stay active and healty to very end. They basically eat a wide variety of multicolored vegetables. Folks have studied these people for some time and even tracked them when they move to the states and start to eat like us and guess what, they start to grow and drop like us. If we lived and ate like them, we could shut down most of the cancer wards, old folks homes, and other facilities.  Nutrition is the only health care system that works and it costs next to nothing compared to the current corruption we call medicine.   

Gully Foyle's picture


So, it isn't about the genetic makeup of those people but the food they eat? That maybe the long livers bred with other long livers to have long lived children?

Some Japanese on this list but they don't dominate it. Matter of fact the US has a respectable amount of longest living.


Then there is this

Rich People Live Longer Than The Poor, Study Finds

But I like this answer best of all

Because many people try and discover that the 'ways' don't work, if you don't have the same genes as those people. There is no simple step-by-step guide to living the longest life. Many people believe that diet and exercise will cure all ills, but plenty of people with 'healthy' diet and exercise drop dead from heart attacks at the age of 40.

If you're genetically predisposed to a certain disease, eating fish or something will not magically prevent you from ever getting that disease, even if fish is generally healthy.

There are lots of different groups of people who are long-lived, and they do completely different things. There's a culture in Okinawa that eats a low-calorie diet consisting mostly of fish, and they live pretty long. There's also a family in Italy somewhere where they eat TONS of red meat, and all live to over 100! There are some religious communes that tend to live much longer than average, and they do some entirely different set of weird things.

And lots of people try those techniques and die anyway.

If there *were* a simple answer, we'd all know about it. But there really isn't. Life is complicated. There are some things we know are definitely bad - like smoking, or excessive drinking. There's a LOT that medicine really isn't sure about.

DaveyJones's picture

if it were only genetics, then they wouldn't start to drop like us when they move to America and start eating and living like us. True there are some groups that have some genetic advantages but it's mostly diet and lifestyle. Look at The China Study, it pretty much validates the Okinawan factors. 

knukles's picture

It's what's for garnish.

i-dog's picture

Vegetables ... are what food eats!

azusgm's picture

Good link. Thanks for posting.

Diogenes's picture

How far are they from Fukushima?

Jimmy Carter was right's picture

And don't forget that Okinawa is the poorest state (prefecture) in Japan, and they like their pork done fatty!

Gully Foyle's picture


The real problem, as near as I can tell, is that many food activists simply don’t understand how meat is manufactured; don’t understand  how demanding average consumers are (see above about boycotts, etc.), and how difficult it is for meatpackers to make a profit on beef in particular. 

The only reason companies like IBP or Tyson or Cargill earn a profit on beef is that they control the materials from farm to grocery store; they run highly efficient packing plants; they produce in huge volume; and they subsidize FRESH beef by also making “value added” products. (Think microwavable pizzas with beef, or cans of chili con carne.) It’s incredibly difficult to make a profit on FRESH meat in general and beef in particular.

You get my point: Pink Slime isn’t unsafe. You may not like its appearance, but unsafeness (is that a word) does not follow from unpleasant appearance. (LOTS of things in life are unpleasant to look at, but it doesn’t follow that they’re unsafe. Think, oh, I dunno: giving birth? Slaughtering an animal?)

What I find most interesting about the PS uproar is how much, alas, it resembles the prohibitionist movement of a century ago: Fear-mongering. Half truths. Appeals to emotion rather than fact and reason. 

Don’t get me wrong: I agree with the food activists on many points. Many. What I object to is the, how shall I put it? --- tone of hysteria attached to their work. The self-righteous “we don’t like it and therefore it’s bad and screw the truth and facts” tone of their approach.

MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

People die giving birth -- just sayin'.

Ignatius's picture

My thinking goes a little further than you might have anticipated.

God/nature gives us a system where we must kill to eat.  We are omnivores.  That said, the way in which we raise and harvest our food is completely immoral accross the board.  Do we wonder why it is and has been illegal to see and photograph what actually happens in a slaughterhouse?  And it's not just how we treat the animals, but also the physical and spiritual damage done to the poor souls who feel they must work long days in these mechanistic hell holes.  These are unsustainable systems and heavily subsidized.  Read Polan's "The Omnivore's Dilema" if interested, for further discussion (it changed my life).

At this point I eat grass fed beef, local fresh eggs, fruits and vegetables.  It costs more.  It costs more to graze the beef, to let the chickens and pigs root around in the open air and dirt.  But it's ecologically sound and requires no formal subsidy.  If I pay more then I'm glad to do it. 

Please don't take this as a moralistic finger-wag on my part.  I ate the factory crap for years before I was willing to look at it and see it for the sacrileges abomination that I now see that it is.  To each his own in his own good time.

Maybe think of it like this.  I'm not a pacifist, but I do not support these ridiculous, aggressive wars.  I'm not a vegetarian, but I refuse to support an immoral food system. 

What does it mean on a 'mass' scale?  A lot more people (jobs!) in agriculture... with the dignity and respect they deserve.




DRT RD's picture

I'm with ya Ig.  My wife and I watched Food Inc. and competely changed out eating habits.  In the freezer now is a 1/2 beef, 1/2 pork, and this week getting 10 pastured chickens. Had to sell an ounce of of the shiny stuff last fall to get the cow, but it was well worth it.  Looking to buy another half this fall.