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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skepticCarl's picture

Oops, you got me Boilermaker.  I took the bait.  You provoked a response from me (below), not realizing your April Fool's joke.

Boilermaker's picture

No, really, I'm sitting right now with 5 other "Amerikkkans" and plotting how we can kill off some endangered species, perpetuate birth defects, sell unicorn horns as an exotic aphrodisiac, and rob the disadvantaged of a future.  Not to mention or relentless mocking of the special olympics.

I'm just twisting my mustache all night long while eating high fructose fast food and hatching diabolical evil plans against the Euros.
NumberNone's picture

We Americans are just not getting enough baby seal and bald eagle in our diets. 

UP Forester's picture

Don't forget Spotted Owls.  They're good wrapped in bacon.

NumberNone's picture

Try polar bear topped with snail die for.

UP Forester's picture

Now THAT'S a big meal.  Trying to get enough Kirtland's Warbles with Blue Karner Butterfly sauce burns more calories than you get out of it....

Goldilocks's picture

Happy April Fools' Day ‘;-)

Vic Vinegar's picture

Did Tyler kill links on this site or not?  'Cuz if so, your posts are forever rendered irrelvevant.

AgShaman's picture

I think you missed the joke.

Come tomorrow....we'll be tortured once again, with bad music from the 80's

Vic Vinegar's picture

Nice one.

I say buy physical and some BAC, too.  It might seem nonsensical at first, but it's damn near a perfect hedge against the ills of the world and the pointlessness of many of the comments here.

americanspirit's picture

Actually we are fat because we eat a diet that triggers whole body inflammation. Sure too many people eat a lot of empty calorie junk food and are fat because they cram their mouths with all kinds of shit, but bottom line my friends is that a HUGE portion of the exess weight that Americans tote around is because of auto-immune inflammatory disease. Now, there is a direct relationship between stuff in our "food" like HFCS that leads directly to inflammatory response, and there is a parallel weight gain in fatty tissues, but the real underlying story isn't the fat, its the inflammation. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hashimotos, crohns, IBS, asthma, autism, alzheimers, and on and on - all inflammation-caused and moderated. Fat people jokes aside, these people are victims of a global conspiracy - a real, true, planned-in-the-corporate-boardroom conspiracy. Just like the cigarette industry is a major owner of the health insurance and life insurance industry - profiting both ways - so the 'food' industry capitalists own a huge amount of the health care and life insurance industry. Get people to buy your shit which makes them sick and then drain them on their way to death. It is nothing more than a business plan. Evil bastards, but clever - you gotta give them credit. Nobody gets it, and the game goes on.

Boilermaker's picture

Well, that, and a box of lil' Debbie's moon pies is $0.99 when NOT on sale.

kekekekekekeke's picture


even zero-calories artificial sweeteners make you fat

Boilermaker's picture

AND...they'll give you hot dog fingers and whooping cough and possibly shingles!  But, the government won't tell you that!

americanspirit's picture

Arrrggghhhh - it isn't the calories or lack of them my friend. It's the inflammation that the chemicals behind those empty calories trigger. When your tissues swell, you gain weight. That is completely different from fat. There are multiple origins of obesity - not one. That is simplistic thinking and benefits those who are manipulating people's health for their profit. I repeat - obesity isn't only about fat, and in many, many cases isn't about fat at all.

When your body needs to isolate toxins, it stores them in fat cells. Then it walls off those fat cells so they can't be breached - to prevent the toxins from being released. That's why it's so hard to get rid of fat - the body has it protected because of the nuclear waste that's stored there. So that's the problem with fat.

Meanwhile - inflammation = tissue fluid retention = weight. Not fat, or rather, in addition to fat - inflammation causing fluid retention. Totally different problem, totally different solution. I see great minds at work here on ZH all the time - so what's with this simplistic "These people are pigs and deserve to die" bullshit?

blunderdog's picture

  what's with this simplistic "These people are pigs and deserve to die" bullshit?

A fair number of folks here are totalitarian fascists at heart.  They only THINK they believe in liberty.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Indeed, a sweet taste on the tongue causes insulin to be produced in anticipation of carbohydrates that never arrive.   The insulin produced from mere sweet tastes causes sugars circulating to be stored as fat, empying sugar from the bloodstream, causing a hypoglycemic state, which makes the subject hungrier than before.   Reaction?  Their appetite increases at the next meal, particularly for sugary or starchy foods, because their blood sugar was lowered by the artificial sweetener.

I.E. artificial sweeteners make you fat, arguably fatter than the real thing taken in moderation with a meal to spread the glycemic spike over time.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Erm..sure there is inflamation around in chronically sugar poisoned bodies, but the reason for this is the battle of the body against the onslaught of sugars and the damage they do.   The cheif reaction to eating carbohydrates, insulin production, is what causes fat storage.  On top that, sure, you have inflamation as a secondary effect.   The primary weight gain is from adipoctyes storing fat in reaction to insulin, which happens when we eat carbohydrates.

Unprepared's picture

Whoever wants to "hate" America wouldn't read ZH, they would just watch Americans.

Boilermaker's picture

Thanks for validating the point better than I could have.  There's nothing like a Eurotard swooping in and filling the role and right on cue.

Unprepared's picture

Overeating is not a disease, it's a symptom of psychological / cognitive void. Likewise for inflated ego.

Boilermaker's picture

Huh, and all this time I thought it was because it was enjoyable and relatively inexpensive.

Thank you so very much for that enlighteing and, obviously, expert correction.

Unprepared's picture

Know the difference between quantity and quality? Beyond a certain affordability/abundance point, eating becomes a cultural expression of self. It is you who is insulting yourself and your fellow citizens for not even giving them the mental faculty of knowing when to enjoy something and when to say enough.

Boilermaker's picture

Ah, yes, it's a 'cultured' thing, now isn't it?  Euros can eat a piece of cheese that smells like a garbage can in July but if it's priced high enough then it's high brow and wonderful.

Give me a break.  Go fuck yourself.  Did you really write "eating becomes a CULTURAL EXPRESSION OF SELF"?

Whatever gets you through your miserable existence bro...whatever it takes.

You're wearing a black turtle neck and have mousse in your hair, right now....I'll bet on it.


americanspirit's picture

Unprepared - pearls before swine. Save your breath.

NumberNone's picture

ZH backed up your comments in another fat related story a couple days ago.  Saying

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.

All this sudden attention to fat and the price of food Americans pay reminds me of the whole argument around how the US is fucking the world by having low oil prices and using more fuel than the rest of the world and how everything would be wonderful if prices were high enough to encourage conservation in the US.  Wonder what the fuck is up. 

skepticCarl's picture

So, Boilermaker, poor people are skinny, and rich people are fat?  The numbers show the opposite:  poor people eat cheap, high calorie, low nutrition food, and are fatter than the well-off.

Boilermaker's picture

Considering I didn't even TRY to make that point, I have no fucking clue what you are alluding to. 

My point was that food here is relatively cheap and our incomes are relatively high.  Thus, buying food isn't the issue it is in the rest of the world.  Moreover, if the situation was the same in the rest of the world, we wouldn't be relatively fat.


Saro's picture

It's not that steak is too cheap here (steak is about the healthiest thing you can eat); It's that corn and wheat are too cheap.  Cutting out grains, refined sugars, and starchy vegetables has done wonders for my waistline, but damn if it isn't murdering my food budget.

Waffen's picture



corn subsidies may be the worst thing our government has ever done if you consider the damage it has dont with both ethenol and HFCS

keeping in mind that government also subsidizes american sugar making it more expensive then it is in the rest of the world.


obsesity and hfcs

pods's picture

Keep eating a high meat diet and they will be able to fit you into a small coffin.


Saro's picture

It's actually a diet high in (natural) fats and protein, with lots of fruits and vegetables.

It's only the garbage carbs that you have to cut out.

zkay's picture

Besides your valid points, Boilermaker, I would also append that whenever an article like this shows up on ZH it's almost as if it takes the BMI index at face value. Did anyone here know a man weighing in at 250lbs standing 6'1 would be considered morbidly obese by the BMI index? Even if he was built like a brick shithouse at 10% bodyfat.

Taking that rating scale and believing it is just assinine, and seems counterintuitive to the other articles I read here at ZH. Everything else is questioned, why is the BMI scale verboten?

It should be noted, too, that there are varying levels of health among fatter people, just as there are among skinny people. My dad was a chunky guy most of his life and never has had a health problem going on 60 years of age. It all depends on what it is you're eating, how much, and what (if any) exercise you do.

Dr Benway's picture



Let me ask you one question about your example. Of all those 6'1 Americans who weigh 250lbs, what proportion has 10% or less bodyfat do you think? one in twenty? less?


Just accept that you are fat and in debt.

Boilermaker's picture

And, the superpower of the world.

Shaktipalooza's picture

Why does an article like this belong on Zero Hedge??? Because a rising obesity rate in a population has dramatic impact on social programs. Living in Asia I see LOADS of fat Europeans that give any slice of the American population a serious run for their money on the chimichanga scale. I could write a book on my experiences with Europeans here, and the idea of "The Ugly American" being a wildly misdirected generalization, but that's another subject.

I am however, a US taxpayer, and I do care about how my tax money is going support (or not) an ever growing black hole of preventable medical costs. First thing I would suggest is no more subsidised cheap calories! Take oreos, soda, doritos, junk food, off the eligibility list for food stamps. In fact I'd be ok if food stamps were limited to food staples ONLY.

I think obesity rates are also tied to social norms and acceptance. Here in Taipei the incomes are high. Food is very affordable, often loaded with fat, and yet there just aren't that many overweight people. It's very rare to see someone who is actually 'obese'. Probably a much higher rate of eating disorders for women but at least you don't see half the people in the crowd well on their way to insulin dependency.

My last flight back to the US had 4 people within six rows of my seat who could NOT sit down without taking 1/2 of the adjoining seats. Those fat fucks were all westerners.

Bottom line, there is a serious obesity problem in the US, and the social costs are going to to be unaffordable.

Besides, I hate looking at fat chicks.

americanspirit's picture

Shakti - gotta agree there. Whenever I see an obese woman with a young child ( everywhere) I can't help but think - who would want to fuck that? I mean, really? Who looks at those mounds of grease and says yum yum?

Shaktipalooza's picture

There is a very small minority of men that get off on mountainous fatty globs of cellulite. I'd rather eat my own vomit.

blunderdog's picture

   I do care about how my tax money is going support (or not) an ever growing black hole of preventable medical costs.

Obesity *saves* your precious tax dollars, dude.  Same with smoking.  Quit bitching and learn to understand the statistics.

Nothing in the world is a greater waste of tax-money than paying for long-care treatment for the Alzheimer's-disabled 70 year old for the last 3 decades of life.

   Besides, I hate looking at fat chicks.

Oh, nevermind.  It doesn't really have anything to do with your money.  Do you hate looking at niggers too?  Or bald guys?

To each his own.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

It's not that I hate America or Americans. After all I am American.

However, I strongly dislike avarice, gluttony, proud ignorance, empire mentality and that whole "I got mine screw you" attitude that has infected a large number of my fellow citizens. These attributes are a large part of the reason America is teetering right now.

You can wave the flag all you want, but recognizing that there might be a problem is the first step healing. Unfortunately, many Americans are too brainwashed and headstrong to consider looking in the mirror to see where part of the problem might lie. Fixing problems often starts with yourself.

Boilermaker's picture

I've got news for you. Europe, Japan, and China are teetering too.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

Sorry, it's not news to me. Do you think that perhaps, this entire worldwide economic system based on the fascist business model of bankers and corporations (avarice) has reached its end? And, since it's a worldwide system everyone goes down?Perhaps the fact that the global economic system is falling is due to an economic system built on avarice, greed and gluttony is not sustainable, contrary to all of the "theories".

Maybe this whole current colonial/dominionist economic system as we know it cannot operate with 6 billion humans on the planet.

Perhaps cheap energy is a thing of the past and that's what's causing the teetering. We will likely only know what really happened in hindsight and after much upheaval.

Mitzibitzi's picture

All of the above, I suspect. Looks like the Mayans may have been about right on the date for the end of this era and the beginning of the next (not that I put much credence in that kinda crap, as a rule). Because we surely can't keep up this bullshit for very much longer. Though I'm sure TPTB are going to pull out all the stops to prolong the agony. And then pull out some more once TSHTF in order to ensure that they come out on top of whatever humanity does next.

Pairadimes's picture

The problem with this assertion is that there is actually an inverse relationship between income and obesity in the United States. People in the low income category are more likely to be obese than those in the high income category. This is a very unusual phenomenon, and so far, policy makers seem to be clueless as to the roots of the problem and the path to a solution (a phrase at risk of being over-used).

Once upon a time, being fat (or at least overweight) was a sign of affluence in this country. Today's popular culture glorifies being abnormally thin and vilifies fat people, so one would think that if the path to a socially acceptable weight were easy, everyone would take it. I have often thought that modern, highly processed foods act upon the body more like drugs than nutrition, and that many people 'medicate', rather than feed, themselves. I also believe the human animal is poorly adapted to an environment of excess; that absent the struggle to survive, we are inclined to these behaviors.

I suspect most middle and lower class Americans give this issue little thought, being preoccupied with many matters of much more immediate concern. People like us may be concerned with the future consequences of this trend, but at the end of the day, this situation is the result of millions of individual choices freely made every day.

TBT or not TBT's picture

There is a simple explanation:

Carbohydrates are cheaper than fats and proteins.  Wealthier people eat fewer carbs and more fats and proteins because they can afford to.   Poor people have their bodies under assault from blood sugar and the resulting insulin flood more of the day and more intensely, fattening them, and bring them to states of insulin resistance and pre-diabetic states faster than their richer compatriots.

Also, poorer people tend to get that way through poor impulse control.   Cheap carbohyrdrates are available front and center all day.   You have to pass by walls of them to get into and out of a typical Walmart, where I've heard poor people shop.   OK. I do too, but I don't buy any carbs there.

Maos Dog's picture

At the current food and fuel inflation rate I predict this problem will solve its self soon...

Racer's picture

Well that is one way of storing supplies for a hyperinflationary food crisis...........

Unprepared's picture

Tyler, please refrain from using "sugar" so many times, my browser "cookies" become so sweet that I get Sugar Daddy ads.

Unprepared's picture

Goddamit, now I'm getting weight loss ads.