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Study: World is getting fatter, needs to stop
August 25th, 2011
06:30 PM ET

Study: World is getting fatter, needs to stop

The problem of obesity is spreading around the world and poses serious health threats.  The finding is part of a new special report on obesity, and how to combat it in the medical journal the Lancet.   The editor, Dr. Richard Horton, calls obesity a pandemic, and said it is one of the “huge threats facing governments which are likely to derail all their best attempts to improve the health of their nations while at the same time controlling costs.”

Obesity Around the World
The first study says nearly 1.5 billion adults in the world are overweight, and half a billion more are obese.  Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) more than 30.  That’s equivalent to an adult who's 5 feet 6 inches weighing more than 185 pounds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s BMI calculator. 

“It is occurring in just about all countries, apart from the lowest income countries,” says Professor Boyd Swinburn, with the World Health Organizations Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention in Melbourne, Australia.  “There is quite a lot of evidence now coming out that this is being driven by changes in the food system,” he says. “The food supply: increasingly processed, available, affordable and highly promoted tasty food.”

The Lancet report says that the obesity rates for different countries vary dramatically due to environmental factors in those countries.  For example, they found “traditionally high levels of active transport," specifically bicycling, in the Netherlands contributed to a lower rate.  Only 1 in 10 women there were categorized as obese, while high levels of car use in the U.S. contributed to obesity.  In the United States one in three women are rated as obese.

The authors believe that the most effective way to stop obesity is governmental policies, including things like banning unhealthy food for children, shifting agricultural policies to promote health.

The report  also said trade "liberalization"  is  contributing to "global overconsumption."  The authors say that these kinds of governmental changes can be easier to sustain and more effective than other options to reduce obesity, though, as Swindon says, “There seems much more a willingness to spend money in drugs and surgery and health promotion programs, which work much more downstream, than there is to deal with the underlying cause right upstream.”

The Future of Obesity
Obesity is on the increase, and nations who fail to stop it could face consequences, according to the second study included in the Lancet’s series.

The report says that  following current trends, there could be 65 million more obese adults in the U.S.  and 11 million more obese adults in the United Kingdom by 2030.  Obesity can cause diseases including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain forms of cancer.

"If these trends continue, by 2030 50% (of) U.S. Men and 45% to 52% (of) U.S. women will be obese,” says Dr. Y Claire Wang of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, one of the authors of this study.

The report says that as obesity goes up, so will the amount of money spent treating people who suffer from it.  Wang adds, “In many cases being overweight at age 50 will not only double but actually triple or quadruple the incident rate for many diseases.”  In the next 20 years, the report concludes, obesity could result in   6–8.5 million cases of diabetes, 5.6–7.3 million cases of  cardiovascular diseases, and more than half a million new cancers in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Wang anticipates that by 2030 the cost to treat people for these diseases in the U.S. will be about $66 billion a year, and 2 billion pounds a year in the U.K.

A Better Model for Weight Loss
Another part of the Lancet’s special report looks at how people can lose weight.

Many recommendations for weight loss suggest that people will slowly and continuously lose weight if they cut 500 calories a day from their diet.  Dr. Kevin Hall of the U.S. National Institutes of Health says it doesn’t really work that way.  He put it bluntly: “Let me be very clear.  This is wrong.  This does not happen.”  Hall says it would be true if your metabolism didn’t change, but we know it does.

In his report, the team created a computer program that could eventually be used by clinicians to model weight loss.  Team members say their program is a more accurate model and accounts for initial body composition and changes in metabolism as you diet.  The computer’s predicted weight loss is significantly less than other formulas suggested, but the authors believe it’s much more realistic.

Governmental Action
The final report in the series says governments must take the initiative in battling obesity.

“Governments certainly need to lead obesity prevention," says author Steven Gortmaker of the Harvard School of Public Health,  "but… so far few have shown any leadership whatsoever.  We’ve let the market do its work and it’s worked well to produce obesity.”

The report includes suggestions for ways governments can implement policies that  it says will reduce obesity and save money.  Proposals include a tax on unhealthy foods and beverages, school programs to promote good nutrition and physical activity, and cutting junk food advertising.  Gortmaker compares these proposals to measures against smoking, saying,“Tobacco taxes were really fundamentally important in altering intake of tobacco and now we see them everywhere.”

Next month a meeting at the United Nations will address noncommunicable diseases, including obesity.  The authors of these studies called for the world to take action.


soundoff (245 Responses)
  1. Peter

    It's America's massive export of corn and corn based foods that is making the world fat.

    Also, corn is being fed in cows, chickens, pigs, and other live stocks.

    Corn is NOT a natural food for them. All of them eat grass. YES GREEN GRASS.

    It's the greedy American companies that have started this mess

    August 25, 2011 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • las88

      The market exists – the companies wouldn't exist without them.

      August 25, 2011 at 21:23 | Report abuse |
    • BryanP

      @las88 I'd say it's more government subsidies which try to protect just about the only thing that Middle America can do - grow corn.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:13 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Corn is actually part of the grass family Poaceae. The taxonomy for "corn" (maize) is: Kingdom Plantae, class Liliopsida, order Poales, family Poaceae, genus Zea, species vary.
      The notion of "grass fed beef" is correct as long as you know that the people that raise it are smart marketer's and do feed corn as well as other grasses to their beef animals. All healthy and good for you....like everything else however, eat in moderation and exercise.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:25 | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      CORN NUTS!!!!

      August 25, 2011 at 22:35 | Report abuse |
    • Amy Spadoni

      Corn is not the reason people are fat. Cattle has eaten corn from the fields in the fall after crops have been taken out. That has happened for longer then anyone commenting on this page has been alive. Also, what ignorant, dumb A%& made the comment about "middle America only being good at growing corn". That is such a stupid comment I don't even know where to start. Educate yourself before posting something completely ...well...uneducated!

      People are fat because they over eat and sit on the couch. Think about the amount of fast foods, pizza, and soda pop that Americans consume on an everyday basis. Get smart people....take responsibility for your actions, stop blaming the schools when the child had sugar and carbs for breakfast and Taco Bell for dinner. Sad how everyone pushes the blame instead of blaming themselves for not making better choices.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:40 | Report abuse |
    • JRGidaho

      Yes, corn is a major part of the obesity epidemic, especially in US. However, it is important to remember obesity is not a disease of the affluent. It is typically most common in low to middle class populations. The simple reason for that is starch (half of the carb equation) is the lowest cost source of calories and so poorer populations tend to consume a high percentage of their diets as bread, potatoes, rice, and pasta (eg. white bread, instant mashed potatoes, hamburger helper, tuna helper, etc). This is a leading casue of obesity. The second piece of the carb equation is added sweeteners in the diet. This is where HFCS comes into the picture. At least in the US and increasingly in 3rd world countries, soda/pop/cola sweetened with HFCS is being consumed in ever increasing amounts. The fastest way for most Americans to lose 20-30 lbs is quit drinking soda/pop/cola.

      These two 'foods' are the primary causes of obesity and nearly all other chronic diseases. It has nothing to with meat or fat consumptiuon. It has everything to do with unhealthy grain-based diets.

      Regarding Mike's comment re 'grass-fed beef', we produce and consume only pasture-finsihed beef. These animals have never had a bite of grain in their lives. Most of the other ranchers we know who are producing pasture-finished or grass-fed beef also feed no grain whatsoever. I do not know where the notion of most pasture-finished/grass-fed cattle being fed corn comes from. It is quite inaccurate information.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:58 | Report abuse |
    • WhackyWaco

      Indians grew corn and taught early colonists how to plant and grow corn. Corn did not make Indians fat.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:59 | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      It's up to the individual to choose their own diet. It has nothing to do with the u.s. corn. People that blame their situation on others really need to grow up and take responsiblity for their plight.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:10 | Report abuse |
    • JRGidaho

      Reply to WhackyWaco. Keep in mind the corn the Native Americans grew was very different for the corn grown today and the NA did not have a manufacturing industry that slipped HFCS into almost every food or drink they could imagine. Corn 400 years ago was 12-14% protein, not 7-8% it is today and it contained a much higher level of fiber in the seed coat as well as pigments providing significant antioxidant effects. Starch content was substantially lower due to these other components being higher.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
    • OMG

      So Peter – it is now the United State's fault because we are "Greedy" that we exported corn and made the world fat. That is insane. The US is being blamed for everything from 'bad breath' to 'grandma dying of old age'. You obviously have something against CORN and any sort of income generated by a business (profit). This is utter insanity.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
    • Cardiac50

      Yes.. it's that whole greedy American agribusiness that had the temerity to feed the hungry of the world. .shame on them.. they were of course held at gunpoint to eat their excessively rich foods.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:45 | Report abuse |
    • UrDumb

      Read your own damn sentence..."America's massive export of corn"... that means other governments are BUYING it...probably because people like you DEMAND it. We certainly aren't giving it away. But I take it it's still somehow our own (American) fault, right? Grow up.

      August 26, 2011 at 00:10 | Report abuse |
  2. Answer

    Very easy to point a finger and place blame.

    Try looking at yourself, and see if you have the right mentality to deal with an issue first.
    Chances are being fat starts with one's own choices in their habits. That is a fact.

    August 25, 2011 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anna Mortensen

      So, is it a chance of or a fact? You seem confused...

      August 25, 2011 at 21:23 | Report abuse |
    • intothefire

      "Chances are being fat starts with one's own choices in their habits. That is a fact"

      This means that there is a majority chance that "ones own choices" leads to them being fat. So the fact he's stating is a statistic(although he doesnt provide support). So ur the one who is confused

      August 25, 2011 at 22:43 | Report abuse |
  3. MedicMax

    It's the increase of income and the increase of fried foods in developing countries which is leading to this trend. Poor people are purchasing fried street food, which is void of nutrition and high in fat.

    August 25, 2011 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • willie

      rich people are fat poor people are fat .so how can you blame or put the blame on all poor and not on both or dont talk about it or get facts or live people alone and fix the world mr know it all

      August 26, 2011 at 01:18 | Report abuse |
  4. lmew

    Oh dear. I'm happy I don't live in the Netherlands!

    August 25, 2011 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valentijn

      I'm obese, American, and living in the Netherlands. They're actually a lot less judgmental about it than Americans. To a large extent, they simply don't care, whereas in the US a lot of people seem to be personally offended by the existence of fat people.

      August 26, 2011 at 03:41 | Report abuse |
    • janicecz

      Valentijn, I think we NEED to be more judgmental about fat people. That Political Correctness demand we tell obese people they are okay – this is a mistake!!!!! Overweight and obese people need to feel some pressure to shape up. It is not a myth that this is an unhealthy and costly lifestyle. Obesity hurts the individual and hurts society. Responsibility begins with the individual, but society needs to encourage healthy choices.

      August 27, 2011 at 02:28 | Report abuse |
  5. GI JOE

    AHA, now we know what is going to happen on 12/21/12. The crust of the earth will no longer be able to support the fat people running around this planet, and crash right on down into the core.

    Give me a break, you would think that the medical profession would be able to tell the difference between obese, and physically fit. I am considered overweight for my age and height, I am 5' 10, and weigh 175, the problem is that I am very healthy, due to the active lifestyle, and the weight lifting I do.

    But the BMI, body mass index, can't tell that, all it reads is height and weight. So it's odd that a few years ago, we went from being really healthy (according to numerous reports and articles) to obese. I think it's time that we demand more from out medical people, other than their agenda to push pills, pills, and more pills, on us.

    Push-ups, sit-ups, and calisthenics cost nothing, and can cure more problems than pharmaceuticals. Yes you also need to watch what you eat, however, the exercising will burn off fat, and proteins at a sustained rate allowing you to eat less amounts more often.

    August 25, 2011 at 20:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CelticHunter7

      I agree. I am 5' – 8" and weigh 165. The BMI lists me as overweight. Yet I exercise everyday. Never eat fast foods and walk to any place a mile or less from home.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:43 | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      anyone w/ half a brain knows that BMI doesn't account for people who lift weights and have a higher than average muscle mass

      August 26, 2011 at 00:33 | Report abuse |
    • willie

      SOME PEOPLE TAKE MEDS THAT MAKE THEN BLOW UP, SOME PEOPLE CAN;T DO ANYTHING ABOUT THEIR WEIGHT. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS IN THIS WRONG IN THIS WORLD THAT YOU SHOULD CONCERN YOURSELF WITH. NO JOBS, PARENTS KILLING THEIR CHILDREN AND THEIR ENTIRE FAMILY'S, CHILDREN HAVE CHILDREN, KIDS KILLING KIDS, PEOPLE STEALING AND KILLING OVER $5.00. AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS COMPASSION FOR OTHERS, IF ANY OF YOU HAD ANY YOU WOULD NOT BE ON HERE SAYING THE MEAN, HURTFUL, INCONSIDERATE, RACIALISTS, DISCRIMINATING, STUPID, SMALL MINDED, IDIOTIC, THINGS THAT YOU SAY. MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOU, PLEASE GOD FORGIVE THEM FOR WHAT THEY SAY FOR THEY HAVE NO IDEA. GOD HAS A REASON FOR ALL OF US TO BE ON THIS EARTH EVEN OVER WEIGHT PEOPLE, MAYBE YOURS IS TO LEARN TO BE HUMAN.

      August 27, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse |
  6. jax

    Sigh... This study is non-scientific. Their is little to no correlation to BMI and excessive amounts of body fat. It is completely plausible to have a body fat percentage of 5-7% and have a BMI over 30. Body mass does not imply body fat.

    August 25, 2011 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chris

      It's published in a medical journal and you are casually sighing and labeling it "unscientific"? What is scientific then?

      August 25, 2011 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
    • Anna Mortensen

      I second Chris"s statement. Not to mention you don't know how the BMI was calculated. If it's simply height and weight, then yes, it is skewed. However, if they did a skin-fold pinch or scan, it's likely on target.

      August 25, 2011 at 21:27 | Report abuse |
    • drvsjunk

      BMI may not be THE most accurate method of evaluating the overall health status of a single individual. But from an epidemiological standpoint (measuring health trends over a large population) it seems to be an efficient way of measuring trends in obesity and heart disease. So the study may not be perfect but that doesn't mean we should just completely ignore the result.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:06 | Report abuse |
    • Sydney

      You don't really need a fancy BMI index. Just go to your local mall, or any large public place, and count the shocking numbers of obese people. You didn' t see that even 20 years ago, and never in the 1970's and earlier.

      And no, they're not all super muscular fitness freaks who have been wrongly labeled as fat by some unfortunate scientific miscalculation.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:36 | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      It true that someone like a steroid queen might have so much muscle that he has a 5% body fat percentage and a BMI of 30, and most BMI charts admit that for trained athletes, the BMI scales are not very accurate. I use the gym a lot, and at 5'6" and 150, I am borderline overweight according to the charts. But in the US especially, most people don't go to a gym, so the BMI charts are usually a good indicator of weight status.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:40 | Report abuse |
    • intothefire

      Anna mortensen, skin fold pinch is for body fat % not BMI. BMI is only the relationship between weight and height

      August 25, 2011 at 22:46 | Report abuse |
    • steve19

      Jax is correct. BMI is a horrible indicatior of obesity. It takes no account for a person's body type or muscularity. I'm not saying that people are not fatter than they used to be; it may be true, but it is not nearly to the degree that is reported. In general, people are more muscular than they were a generation or two ago – compare male and female athletes at the high school, college and professional levels to there counterparts 30 years ago. The differences are stunning. I am a high school teacher and I can find 50 athletes at our school that are much more muscular than all but one or two students when I was in high school. Also, the demographics of the U.S. have changed greatly in the last few decades which could account for some change as well.

      August 26, 2011 at 00:02 | Report abuse |
    • JRGidaho

      Reply to Steve19. I graduated from high school in 1973. Fewer than 5% of my classmates were noticeably overweight at that time. As my own kids have graduated from high school over the past decade, just a casual glance shows well over 25% of their classmates are noticeably overweight.

      Yes, athletes are more muscular today than they were in my high school days, but they are an ever shrinking percentage of the student body. When there were 100 boys in the senior class, 15 to 20 of them played varsity football and maybe 5 played basketball. Today with 500 boys in the senior class there are still just 15-20 varsity football players and still just 5-6 basketball players. The rest are left to their own devices to either be fit or unfit.

      August 26, 2011 at 00:50 | Report abuse |
  7. Jose SAn Antonio

    Not to blame or pointing fingers, but you can go to a small town in Philippines, and you find fast food restaurants, i.e., Mc Donalds, KFC, Shaky's Pizza. Those are American food chain restaurants. Since then, kids in these towns are getting fatter. Instead of eating a home cook meals, it's just easy to walk in to one of these places, eat fried foods, and enjoy the comfort of air condition. Compare the time when I was a child, and today's children, I observe a lot of fat and near obese kids everywhere.

    August 25, 2011 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sharon

    We need to start treating unhealthy, processed foods like sodas, chips, cakes, cookies etc. the same way we treat cigarettes. It needs to be taxed as a separate food category. We would not put cigarettes in school vending machine, or offer it as part of a Happy Meal. That needs to start immediately.

    August 25, 2011 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Robert

      I agree with you sharon and I even eat those items, but before you tax me for them, Please bring down the prices on the stuff that is good for me.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:31 | Report abuse |
    • TheLemon

      Taxing junk food is insane. That would mean the government is saying "HEY your too stupid and lack enough willpower to make good food choices, so, I guess we'd better do it for you." Both those things might be very true. But last I checked, this was a free country, and if you want to eat yourself into a coma on Twinkies, you have every right to do so. It's not the government's job to slap you when you break your diet.

      August 26, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse |
    • janicecz

      TheLemon, we all end up paying, through rising health care costs, for those people who "break their diets"! Of course the ultimate responsibility lies with the poor choices made by overweight and obese people, but government can certainly encourage and support healthy choices.

      August 27, 2011 at 02:33 | Report abuse |
  9. tzvikf

    How about all of these computer, finance, and other service jobs where we get to sit all day in front of a computer with no exercise or physical exertion as part of the job? This cannot help either.

    August 25, 2011 at 21:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dyermoe

      That doesn't stop you from hitting the gym on the way to work, or the way home from work. That doesn't stop you from turning off the boob tube when you get home at night and going for a walk around your neighborhood, and maybe chatting with some neighbors. You can talk about the fat people who never leave their houses at night.

      August 25, 2011 at 21:33 | Report abuse |
    • Abbyka

      Exactly! If you sit down all day at work chances are you're going to end up overweight! Plus I think a lot of people with desk jobs go for the convenience of the fast food place just across the street for lunch almost everyday. If you sit down all day at work then you should avoid fatty foods at all costs, and take the stairs rather than the elevator. Just those two things alone could probably curb the effects of sitting all day long.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:00 | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      I work at a computer all day and I'm in fine shape – I work out at a gym 4-5 times a week. The answer to a desk job body is rather simple (though not easy)

      August 25, 2011 at 22:42 | Report abuse |
    • dinabq

      Here's a question. Since when are gym memberships free? What if you live in a neighborhood where it's not safe to walk around at night? What if you only have 30 minutes for lunch at work and no place to store a healthy lunch from home? What if the only place you have to buy groceries is at a convenience store? What if you have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet and don't have time at the end of the day for exercise or to make a meal? It's easy to judge others and assume everyone is in the same situation as yourself - but they're not.

      August 26, 2011 at 08:53 | Report abuse |
  10. b

    eat right (natural, non-processed, foods), exercise, good mental health, proper hygiene – we're taught all of this in health class, but we don't learn well in the us – what a waste of time and resources

    August 25, 2011 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Robert

      Again this comes down to money. The Prices on the healthy stuff and I know this to be fact because I work in a natural Foods store, The Prices are outrageous compared to products containing MSG. Reverse the trend and you reverse what is eaten. I want to eat those natural foods, but I can't afford them.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:30 | Report abuse |
  11. lawlzabob

    this chat thread setup SUCKS its not even worth using when there is the other one

    August 25, 2011 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. las88

    My philosophy – if they didn't eat it 2000 years ago – neither will I – very simple. I'm phyically fit, healthy, feel good, look good, and am very happy. I love to be active because it's easy when you're not carrying around an extra 50+ pounds. I can't undertand why more people don't embrace this lifestyle – I'm addicted.

    August 25, 2011 at 21:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anna Mortensen

      Congratulations. Want a cookie?

      August 25, 2011 at 21:28 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Remind me, what was the average lifespan 2,000 years ago? Do you also avoid vaccinations and modern medicine because they didn't have them back then? Why would you put this modern stuff into your body? Don't you want to die at 34 years old?

      August 25, 2011 at 21:32 | Report abuse |
    • intothefire

      Jeff, its called the paleo diet and it has met with some success so dont just shrug thinks off. u cant just assume because we live longer now that their diet wasnt better than ours. everybody makes assumptions but stupid ppl make assumptions then use that as a basis for insulting someone elses ideas cuz they(u) didnt have a better reply

      August 25, 2011 at 22:50 | Report abuse |
    • JRGidaho

      I think you are on the right track, but the benchmark should be at least 10,000 years ago which was before the advent of sedentary grain-based agriculture. By 2000 years ago our life spans had already shortened significantly and the so-called 'diseases of civilization' had already begun to appear.

      Anthropological evidence indicates Cro-Magnon people typically lived to be between 50-60 years of age without vaccinations, antibiotics, health insurance, or any influence of the medical industry.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:08 | Report abuse |
  13. Dyermoe

    Sarah Palin says it's your right as an American to have fat, lazy kids. First Lady Michelle Obama is a horrible person for suggesting parents to be responsible and raise their kids to eat healthy and get some exercise. The nerve...

    August 25, 2011 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JRGidaho

      Sarah Pailn is correct that you have the right to raise fat, unhealthy kids if you choose to do so. My objection is it is not my responsibility to pay for other people's poor lifestyle choices. The Center for Disease Control estimates over 75% of what America spends on health care is directly attributable to dietary choices. I think it is closer to 90%, but you get the point. I have to pay ridiculously high health insurance premiums because of other people's choices.

      BTW, I am 55 and have spent less than $3,000 in total medical costs in the last 30+ years, yet I have to pay over $10,000 annually for health insurance. I eat appropriately and am reasonably active. That is how simple good health really is.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
    • janicecz

      Well, said, JRGidaho – we ALL end up paying for the poor choices (and the parents' poor choices) of the overweight and obese.

      August 27, 2011 at 02:38 | Report abuse |
  14. Abbyka

    You know what the real problem is? Technology. Everything has an easy technological alternative nowadays. Instead of going to visit friends we call them or get on the internet, we use cars to get everywhere, cooking from scratch is rare nowadays so people microwave EVERYTHING, TV has everyone sitting on the couch instead of going for a stroll or playing with their kids, the list goes on. It's not JUST processed food. There are a lot of issues this modern world has that contributes to obesity. Another one that just makes it all the more worse is wealth. If you're poor you're more likely to buy those nasty processed foods and you are probably depressed and dive into those processed foods as a way of coping since you can't afford the movies or any other form of entertainment to take your stress away for a moment. I should know, I'm obese and trying to lose weight. I've been on a diet for almost two months now and have lost 16 lbs already. I find my healthy foods are more expensive than processed foods, and trying to plan my diet/food out for the week while keeping within a budget is difficult especially with kids.

    August 25, 2011 at 21:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mcb79

      A lot of truth in your statement. We CAN NOT push this off on the government like we do everything else. Our culture has changed as a result of many things (technology, processed foods and many, many other things). If we truly want change we have to look at ourselves first. Additionally we have the habit of over complicating things. To maintain a healthy lifestyle you must CHANGE your diet (not go on a diet), and be active. I understand that these things are more easily said than done, but it is that simple. Abbyka, congrats on your weight loss! Keep up the good work!

      August 25, 2011 at 22:14 | Report abuse |
    • Kizznyle

      Although I do agree that technology has the potential to cause many people to be obese or overweight, it can also do the opposite. I'm a college junior, and the first two years of college, I ate horribly, since all the healthy food in the cafeteria was overcooked, under-seasoned, and tasted awful. I also didn't exercise because I hated it. I've been overweight my entire life (although my bmi says I'm obese, I've never considered myself that because I'm fairly active, and can hold my own while exercising, when I do), and it was technology that got me inspired to start living a healthier lifestyle. By watching Iron Chef American and the Next Food Network Star, I developed a passion for cooking my own food to be able to to get all the fantastic flavors of high quality food, and all the advantages of eating healthy.

      On the subject of exercising, I still hate doing it, and the only way I can motivate myself is to say that I have to be exercising while I watch the new episodes of my favorite shows (4 shows= 4 new episodes a week during school= 4 days of exercising), and I will spend the entire hour running on the treadmill, riding the stationary bike, or using the elliptical, and I don't even notice because I'm so caught up in the story. So even though technology can be responsible for the fact that we are more unhealthy as a whole, it can also be used to inspire (I get all my recipes from online) and to motivate.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:04 | Report abuse |
  15. SuNFiSH

    let people do what they wanna' do. if they WANT to be fit, then they'll try, but if they don't mind carrying around all that baggage, let 'em. there's too many of us, anyway. we're infecting the world, producing like we're freakin' rabbits when all we breed these days are murderers, rapists and idiots. i see obesity as POPULATION CONTROL. like i said, people will do what they wanna do. don't blame corn, sugar, and all this other nonsense. it's irrelevant. you can't fight the inevitable, and you definitely can't find laziness...

    August 25, 2011 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • intothefire

      i agree that ppl should deal with their own consequences. shortness of breath, diabetes, heart disease etc but unfortunately the way health care works here is the insurance company uses "higher costs" as a reason to increase premiums across the board and with millions and millions of fat ppl its hurting everyone.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:53 | Report abuse |
    • janicecz

      Indeed, you do not see any obese elderly people. They have all died off, but not before reproducing and passing on those bad lifestyle choices to the next generation.

      August 27, 2011 at 02:41 | Report abuse |
  16. me

    long story short......hemmm..... PUT DOWN THE FORKKK!!!!!!!!

    August 25, 2011 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • perilous

      Yeah, except right in the article it says that doesnt work. Imbecile.

      August 26, 2011 at 01:28 | Report abuse |
  17. tdog

    At least close to 50% won't be using social security or medicare, as they wont make it much past 65 and the budget deficit will be automatically resolved. Thanks mcdees

    August 25, 2011 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Todd

      Actually, no one will be using Social Security or Medicare if the republicans have anything to say about it.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:43 | Report abuse |
  18. us1776

    INDUSTRIALIZED FOOD is killing all of us !!

    Processed to death which removes all natural nutrients and then a small subset of nutrients is artificially added back.

    .

    August 25, 2011 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Robert

    QUIT TALKING ABOUT OBESITY and start talking about MSG. The Problem is this country's Prices on MSG Containing products which do not fill a person as quickly and are very unhealthy, not to mention Genetically Altered animals are used on farms across America. If this country would offer the good stuff to it's residents at a decent price, you would watch MSG fall by the wayside, and America would be much Healthier. Stop Talking Obesity till you are ready to offer this country healthy foods at fair prices!!!!

    August 25, 2011 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • a cook

      monosodiumglutamate is not the underlying issue. HFCS is.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:23 | Report abuse |
  20. Justin

    Love how the middle scale says 120 lbs. Last time I checked, that's pretty light.

    August 25, 2011 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alyse

      Look at how much smaller the feet/ankles are- it's probably a child, dice this article has a focus on the future effects of this trend. Maybe it's an 8-year-old with a pot belly.

      August 26, 2011 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
    • Alyse

      Look at how much smaller the feet/ankles are- it's probably a child since this article has a focus on the future effects of this trend. Maybe it's an 8-year-old with a pot belly.

      August 26, 2011 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
  21. a cook

    OK. There is one issue here. CORN. Let me spell it out.

    Due to gigantic subsidies from the government, all that American farmers grow is acres of CORN. (and soybeans to an extent.)
    What to do with all this extra corn? Scientists have discovered that with a little chemistry, we can basically make any food out of corn. High fructose corn syrup, instead of sugar, is in everything from soda to muffins to candy to you name it. Xanthan gum, also corn. Don't eat twinkies, problem solved right?

    Corn is fed to beef, pork, chickens, and farm raised FISH even. Keep in mind none of these animals eat corn. They can't digest it. Although it does plump them up. Keep in mind that there are innumerable health problems that go along with feeding corn to animals. Its sickening.

    OK, SO, go to mcdonalds. lets see here, a big mac, fries and a coke. BIG MAC – CORN MEAT. potatoes, FRIED IN CORN. your soda, CORN LIQUID. or go to your supermarket and buy conventional meat, a steak. its all corn based.

    the entire food system in our country is screwed because the entire food chain is based on CORN. The book "The Omnivores Dilemma" should open your eyes to what our food is actually made out of. Buy organic, buy local, or die.

    Why are Americans fat? HFCS. HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Stop eating corn based foods.

    August 25, 2011 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • zoundsman

      I'd say that book was in my all time top 10 influential books I've read in my lifetime.
      I gotta read it again.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:43 | Report abuse |
    • JRGidaho

      While 'Omnivores Dilemma' will certainly raise your interest, the better book to help you become an informed citizen is 'Good Calories, Bad Calories' by Gary Taubes. That book is a real life changer.

      August 26, 2011 at 00:53 | Report abuse |
  22. Marc

    Of course we're getting fatter! More people than EVER have access to food and clean water! This makes more sense than ever. Even though we are going through tough economic times, there are still far more people today WITH the ability to get food, whether they have the money for it or not, than ever before! There's social assistance programs out there for people who can't afford to get the food. Even if the food is unhealthy, I still say we as people are far healthy than ever before! So healthy, we eat too much of it. Every thing is only good in moderation when it comes to food. We have access to it and we over indulge in it, why? Because our ancient ancestors had to hunt it for it and at times starved for days at a time. It's no different than a dog's situation, we are just able to tell our self to stop... Eventually. Give a dog a plate of food, no matter what size the plate is, it'll eat everything. It's biologically programmed to eat as much as possible, because it's ancestors didn't eat often and each meal they had, they had to eat every single piece of meat on the dead carcass.

    People say teens are more obese than ever and yet obesity in teens has been around forever. More are obese, why? Because more people can find and afford food! Why is that the majority of today's teens are taller than their parents? Because, they eat more and eat healthier than their parents! My parents as children grew up in poor living conditions and were lucky at times to have a piece of bread. I can tell you one thing, we aren't rich today, but we sure as heck are more educated, use our money more wiser, and access to food is far more simpler. Every thing is mass produced so easily, far more easily than it was during when my parents were growing up.

    August 25, 2011 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • a cook

      No Marc, eating alot of food is not the issue either. it's eating SHI(T) food that's the problem. Eat 20 pounds of veggies a day, you're not going to get fat.

      August 25, 2011 at 22:24 | Report abuse |
  23. Eat Less

    Way to go, McDonald's. Mission accomplished, a-h0les.

    August 25, 2011 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jerry

      Your name is Eat Less and you're blaming the fact that folks are fat on McD's? Maybe they should 'Eat Less'.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:05 | Report abuse |
  24. 77Observer

    The Skinnies of Somalia would not agree.

    August 25, 2011 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. biff

    Keep eating hogs.

    August 25, 2011 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Jason

    The problem is the calories per serving. If you go to any restaurant or fast food establishment anywhere now the calories are displayed like little trophies won at some contest. Mcdonalds Large french fries has 500 Calories with 25 fat Grams, had with say a cheese burger you'll add another 300 calories with 12 fat g. Now you will want to wash it down with that large coke of course, add another 300 calories. Try going to Panda Express, almost 500 calories per serving!

    August 25, 2011 at 22:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. cm

    Not everyone was born to be thin.

    August 25, 2011 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jrh

      And not one in ten thousand obese people was born to be obese. If they were, how come this is a new epidemic? There should have been 40% of adults who were obese 50 or 100 years ago, and there weren't. Your statement is true, but it's not an excuse for eating garbage, not exercising, and not assuming personal responsibility for your health.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:14 | Report abuse |
    • janicecz

      Well said, JRH!!

      August 27, 2011 at 02:43 | Report abuse |
  28. Derrick

    The problem is...the world is getting lazy...go back 100 years and people had to "work" You had to grow most of your food, walk to the store and anything else you done required some kind of manual labor. There were no tv's, computers, or playstations....and definitely no Micky D's. Take away all the luxuries, technology, and fast food and you will see the pounds drop!

    August 25, 2011 at 22:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gnodges

      well said.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:17 | Report abuse |
    • willie

      HOW OLD ARE YOU YOU SAID PEOPLE WERE NOT AS BIG AS TO DAY YOU ARE WRONG I LIVED ON A FARM ALL MY LIFE AND PEOPLE EAT FAT BACK USED AND MADE BUTTER FROM CREAM AND USED GREESE FOR BACON AND SMOKED AND DRINK BEER&SODA AND LIVED TO 80 TO 90 AND I HAVE FAMILY 100 TO DAY SO YOU NEED TO GET LOOK AND GET YOUR STORY TO A POINT OR A TRUE STATEMENT AND LOWER FOOD PRICES AND HIGHER WAGES LOWER GAS PRICES .IF YOU DO THIS I WILL VOTE FOR YOU

      August 26, 2011 at 00:36 | Report abuse |
  29. jrh

    Here's the ugly truth: the obesity/diabetes/resulting disease epidemic is ultimately going to be self-limiting. We now have 8 year old kids with Type 2 diabetes. Who thinks they'll live to old age? Who thinks they'll live to middle age? Like global climate change, the reality of this will start to sink in when the only people getting rich are the drug companies and the mortuaries. I see it as job security for those of us in the health care industry. I just hope my back is up to the (big fat) job.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Graphic Designer

    Right off the bat, before I even start to read this article about the world being too fat, I am distracted by a graphic of three people standing on scales...the first who appears to be a man (starting from left) weighs a whopping 70 lbs. , the next, a woman...a whopping 120 and the third is hard to make out but probably 100. Schlocky image that doesn't make me even want to get into the article because right off the bat..it feels like a weekend "phone in." Love you CNN but...schlock.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jrh

      Perhaps those are all kilogram scales? It would be much more realistic, and is probably the case.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
    • Graphic Designer

      @jrh you might very well be right but my understanding is CNN is still headquartered in the US. You can bet US women immediately look at those numbers on the scale to see what they consider "obese." Unfortunately most Americans have no clue about the metric system and its US (standard) equivalents. Just an observation about the carelessness of matching the graphic with the content...nothing more. I honestly haven't read the article because it is a little over-obvious here in Ohio.

      August 25, 2011 at 23:32 | Report abuse |
  31. Augie

    I'm all for taxes on junk food. End the recession and let the fatties pay for it.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • willie

      so if you had and did pay for it because it was the only thing you could afford to buy and all other food was so high then i can or others could call you fat so or big ass or tons of fan?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????how do you like it

      August 26, 2011 at 21:15 | Report abuse |
  32. Grimsby

    We used to be such a proud Nation. Now the majority are just fat, lazy and apathetic with no self respect.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • willie

      JUST WANT TO NO WHO GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO CALL PEOPLE FAT AND LAZY BEFORE YOU LOOK OR NO THE FACTS OF THE PERSON OR THE WHOLE WORLD WHAT IF I CALLED YOU SKINNY MINNY BONES AND STICKES SICKY AND WICKY ROPE MAN OR THE WIND WOULD BLOW YOU AWAY .YOU WOULDNT TAKE YOUR SH-T NO MORE

      August 26, 2011 at 00:59 | Report abuse |
  33. Kevin

    BMI is flawed, 6'1" 180# runner and BMI says I'm fat. Flawed science is quackery. If you look fat, you probably are.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Raebo

    The rest of the world is not my problem but in Canada and the US obesity is off the scope.
    I would like our government here in Canada to tax the hell out of the in your face off the scope nasty foods that have little in the way of nutritional value but pack an extremely high fat/sugar punch.
    As an example a Big Mac combo should cost $18 to 25 dollars, double fudge Oreo cookies 16 dollars a bag, but rather than these Governments keeping this money it should be used exclusively to subsidize fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables, fish, seafood, and white meat.
    A small bag of broccoli cost me ten dollars here, I could buy six big bags of Potato chips for the same price, but I don't.
    Lots of people do though and they are the size of fridges.
    People can't control themselves, so we have to help them make the right choices, the health related costs of obesity are breaking us.
    If it puts some of these companies out of business then start offering better choices or fold up your tents.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • willie

      SO YOU ARE SAYING AND YOU THINK FAT PEOPLE ARE BREAKING US THE GOVERNMENT IS BROKE AND NO JOB AND BAD ECONOMY BECAUSE OF BAD AND POOR SPENDING OF TAX MONEY AND PEOPLE LIVE LONGER TO DAY SO YOU HAVE AND EVERONE HAS TO DO WHAT YOU SAY BULL SH-T WHEN YOU DONT KNOW THE FACTS OR SO YOU THINK YOU DO

      August 26, 2011 at 22:41 | Report abuse |
  35. Wise guy

    As my grandmother used to say... "You dig your grave with your knife and fork"

    August 25, 2011 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Ozzi

    I see this a problem that is a direct result of the financial pressures of modern day life in the developed western world. Most families need the equivalent of 2 incomes to (barely) make ends meet. In a traditional nuclear family that means both parents having to work and sharing all the normal chores/commitments outside of work. That basically means less time. Couple that with the fact that as parents we now seem to spend more time with activities directly relating to the development of our children ie. homework , sport, birthday parties, social commitments, transportation etc. etc. and you can see how time is a dwindling asset for everyone. So what happens when a parent has to rush to pick up the children from school, rush them to sport, come home and help with the homework and do the household chores? Where's the time, money and energy to purchase healthy food, cook it and sit down for a nice healthy meal with the family amongst all this rush? It is nowhere because it is damn near impossible to find. So the alternative is to purchase a meal that's already cooked (ie. fast food) and slot it in somewhere amongst all this. The result being expanding waistlines and a message to our children that it's ok to eat junk when your busy running around for sport and other commitments. Problem is when the kids grow up, the sport takes a back seat (due to time) but the message that junk food is ok stays with them. I was lucky enough to grow up in a time when one income was enough for a family to survive on so we always sat down to a healthy home cooked meal made from healthy products that were bought from a supermarket/store owned by a person/company that wasn't hell bent on distributing ever increasing profits to shareholders at the expense of the health and well being of the general poprulation (like every other company in the world). It was a time of balance. Yes everyone still needed to make money to live but it seemed that there wasn't as much greed that was detroying the healthy way of life that we had. In the current world we live in, it is practicaly impossible to reverse the obesity trend by just looking at food choices rather thant the "reasons" for those choices themselves. Governments have as much a responsibility as companies and parents themselves. You can't expect to tax people to the hill, and have cost of living pressure that require combined incomes thereby limiting time to make healthy choices and expect a nation of healthy people. Increasing activity itself isn't a solution if there is no time to do it. Infact I would think that even if the activity of sport was stopped and the time was spent on preparing a healthy meal thereby reoplacing the fast food alternative, this would still be beneficial due to a direct result of less calories and the positive reinforcement to our children that healthy eating takes priority over other less important things. Of course governments could help with subsidies on healthy food rather than taxes on fast food.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. zoundsman

    World getting fatter? Well, stop the world! I want to get on!
    If this bad economy doesn't cease, I'll be looking like Ghandi on diet.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Jaci

    If obesity is a pandemic, then there is definately something wrong. Just like wealth...balance is way out of whack. How can there be too many obese people and yet millions are starving.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Saa

    Food used to fuel us and now its killing us.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Deek

    Compare the price of fresh fruit and vegetables to something like pasta or rice. It can be quite expensive to eat healthy foods. With so many families suffering in this economy, filling a child's belly is sometimes the first priority–not choosing the healthyiest foods. Apples at $1.99/pound?. You could buy two large boxes of spaghetti for that and feed a large family several meals!!

    August 25, 2011 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. davetharave

    Don't blame governments, food companies or space aliens. Just eat better food and less of it. It's not that hard. Stop stuffing your face and take control of your life.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Geoffrey Hamilton

    Well, its off to the Netherlands... I'll ride a bike anywhere to enjoy the scenery of unfat women!

    August 25, 2011 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Steve

    This goes against the world is over populated we need to shorten life expectancies.

    August 25, 2011 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Zuma

    The facts: nobody knows for sure why the whole world is getting obese. At any rate, if somebody knows they sure are not saying. Eat less/exercise simply falls flat on the stark evidence: people eat less, exercise like hell (even run marathons) and yet THEY KEEP GETTING FATTER in the medium and long range. ALL OF THEM.

    August 26, 2011 at 00:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JRGidaho

      I already posted it in a comment earlier in this thread, if you want a true understanding of why we are increasingly obese as a species, read 'Good Calories, Bad Calories' by Gary Taubes. The science of obesity has been known for decades. It has been suppressed by the medical-pharmaceutical-agricultural-industrial-government complex because it goes against what they decided 50-60 years ago (quite incorrectly) was the cause.

      August 26, 2011 at 01:01 | Report abuse |
  45. hank

    oh boy, MORE government intervention. thanks. stupid liberals

    August 26, 2011 at 00:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Naomi

    Please stop Asians from eating shark fin soup. Adopt the Jewish or Muslim diet for all Earthlings to preserve the Earth!

    August 26, 2011 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • willie

      SO NEXT YOU WANT ME TO LIVE IN A CAVE OR HOLE AND RAN A CROSS THE DESERT AND EAT ROOTS AND WEEDS AND HATE AMERICANS AND PRAY TO A CAMEL AND CARRIE A GUN SAVE EARTH GO AWAY

      August 26, 2011 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
  47. Phil

    I just looked, and it said for my height/weight I should be 125-169 pounds. With my frame, at 169 I would be skin and bones and could be a supermodel.

    August 26, 2011 at 00:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Josie

    Just follow the Golden Arches. Wherever McDonalds has set up shop, obesity is soon to follow. And KFC is guilty too. Chinese people now eat more KFC than anything else. *S-h-u-d-d-e-r"

    August 26, 2011 at 00:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • willie

      FIRST OF ALL MCDONALDS AND KFC GIVE TO THE HUNGREY AND KID AND POOR AND HUNGREY OVER SEAS .SO IF YOU WERE IN NEED AND HAD NOTHING AND NO JOB HOMELESS AND IN NEED YOU WOULD NOT EAT OR WOULD YOU DIE SO YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT THIS BE FORE YOU TALK ABOUT FAT OR POOR PEOPLE .YOU HAVE NO CLUE AND YOU ONLY GO ON WANT YOU HEAR OR SEE IN YOUR LITTLE OWN AND STUPID WORLD .SO IF YOU CAN SAY FAT AND POOR I CAN CALL YOU NAMES TO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 26, 2011 at 23:05 | Report abuse |
  49. DaTruth

    It's just not true that non-processed foods are more expensive, or that the poor can only afford packaged food. You can survive and be healthy with a few very cheap staples like steamed rice, boiled potatoes, boiled pinto beans, oatmeal, cabbage and any in-season fruits and veggies on sale. However, in many poor areas of town there are usually fewer places to buy the right food choices. Rich or poor, people ARE getting fatter and it's due to processed foods, too much food, and sedentary lifestyle.

    August 26, 2011 at 00:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. TSK

    Maybe this is Gods way of dealing with world over population.

    August 26, 2011 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • willie

      GOD DONT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW YOU LIVE OR HE NEVER SAID IN ANY BIBLE THAT YOU HAD TO BE SKINNY OR FAT AND ALL PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERANT BODYS AND LOOKS AND FACES AND SO ON SO GOD DONT JUDGE ANYONE AND NEVER DID SO BEFORE YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT GOD WOULD DO OR GOD SAID YOU NEED TO THINK AND LEARN ABOUT WHAT YOU SAY AND DO OR LIVE P.S FAT OR SKINNY BLACK OR WHITE MAN AND WOMAN SHALL BE EQUAL READ BIBLE BEFORE YOU TALK SH--T

      August 26, 2011 at 22:19 | Report abuse |
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.