How Overweight Are Americans?

Obesity is America’s Weight Problem

America is “fatter” than Canada. Obesity is America’s Weight Problem. Not a startling fact for us to ‘digest,’ since various studies have produced similar reports. However, this is the first time that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has compared US obesity rates with those of another country. Plus, some of the other studies used self-report surveys for their information, where everyone underestimates or purposely minimizes how much he weighs . . . or even telephone interviews wherein the interviewee cannot be seen. The CDC looked at Body Mass Index (BMI) at different heights for the subjects.

The new CDC figures put the obesity rate for the US at 34%, and 24% for Canada—a disparity of 10 percentage points. Now you may be thinking the difference in racial demographics accounts for much of this, since some minority groups tend to have higher rates of obesity than whites. But you would be wrong. When the CDC researchers separately analyzed the data for white people, there was still a 33% to 26% difference between the US and Canadian rate, respectively. There are a few questions raised here. It is not surprising that whites in the US are very obese (a drop of only one percentage point when minority groups are pulled out). But why did the obesity rate for Canada increase (from 24% to 26%) when data on whites were analyzed independently?

Another surprise came from the childhood obesity rates in the 2 countries: 15.5% in the US and 12% in Canada. Not only were they half that of the adult rates, but there was no significant difference found between the countries.

The major questions created by the CDC results are three.

  1. What are we doing being childhood and adulthood that impacts so impressively on our tendency toward obesity and, in consequence, the health and longevity of our people?
  2. And what are we doing differently from the people across our northern border? Could the cold temperatures have something to do with it?
  3. Finally, since the even worse news is that it obesity appears to be rising in all nations worldwide, what can we do about it?

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