The Fattening Of America: Obesity Rates Hit Record High, Doctors Blame Cars & Poverty

74% of American men are either overweight or Obese (up from 63% in 1994) according to a new report using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

As MSN reports, the researchers exclaim "obesity is not getting better. It's getting worse, and it's really scary. It's not looking pretty," warning that America's "car dependence" and poverty ("processed and fast foods are less expensive") are to blame and America's weight problem is an issue that will not be resolved through a purely medical solution.

As MSN reports, fewer than one-third of Americans are currently at a healthy weight, with the rest of the population either overweight or obese, a new report finds.

About 35 percent of men and 37 percent of women are obese. Another 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women are overweight, researchers said in the June 22 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.

 

"Obesity is not getting better. It's getting worse, and it's really scary. It's not looking pretty," said Lin Yang, a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The new obesity figures did not come as a surprise to Dr. Elliott Antman, president of the American Heart Association.

"It's in line with what we already knew, and it provides some numbers on the magnitude of the problem," Antman said of the new study. "It puts a face on the issue, and it's a significant problem."

 

Obesity is related to increases in diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, "all of which converge on an increased risk of heart disease and stroke," he said.

 

America's weight problem is an issue that will not be resolved through a purely medical solution, Yang and Antman said. Politicians and officials at the federal, state and local levels will need to weigh in with policies that increase the number of calories people burn and decrease the amount of unhealthy foods they ingest.

 

For example, communities need to adopt plans that will make it easier for people to get around on foot or riding a bike, rather than sitting in a car, Yang said.

 

"America is a very much car-dependent country. We know car driving is a chunk of sedentary behavior," she said. "More walking or bicycling would increase the physical activity of the whole nation."

 

Policymakers also need to find ways to improve the availability of inexpensive, healthy food, Antman said. Right now, processed food and fast food that is high in unhealthy sugar, salt and fat tends to be more affordable and available in America's communities than healthier options.

 

"Fast foods are less expensive, so that individuals trying to feed a large family might tend to purchase them rather than fresh foods, which are harder to find and more expensive, and therefore less economically appealing," he said.

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But more cars and cheaper costs for crappy food is great for the stock market, right?

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We leave it to the report's doctors to conclude - rather stunningly...

"This generation of Americans is the first that will have a shorter life expectancy than the previous generation, and obesity is one of the biggest contributors to this shortened life expectancy because it is driving a lot of chronic health conditions," she said.