Study: Global obesity nearly doubled since 1980
February 3rd, 2011
07:00 PM ET

Study: Global obesity nearly doubled since 1980

The global prevalence of obesity has almost doubled since 1980, while some inroads have been made in dropping global cholesterol and high blood pressure rates. Those are the findings of three papers published in the Lancet, looking at global heart disease risk factors between 1980 and 2008.

"Our results show that overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are no longer Western problems or problems of wealthy nations. Their presence has shifted towards low and middle income countries, making them global problems," according to senior study author Professor Majid Ezzati, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.

Global body mass index rates have almost doubled since 1980, when 4.8% of men and 7.9% of women were obese. In 2008, 9.8% of men and 13.8% of women in the world were obese, according to the study. The United States tops the dubious list of hefty high-income countries for largest increase in  body mass index and highest rate of BMI.

The study finds that in 2008 more than half a billion adults were obese worldwide, including an estimated 297 million obese women and 205 million obese men. Excess body weight is a known risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, causing “nearly three million deaths every year worldwide” according to the World Health Organization.

Other BMI trends among countries include:

*Pacific Island nations top the chart for the highest BMI average in the world. It’s up to 70 percent higher than some countries in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

*After the United States, New Zealand has the highest BMI rate among high-income countries. Japan and Singapore have the lowest BMI rates among high-income countries.

*Women had virtually no rise in BMI in Belgium, Finland, France, and Switzerland during the study period. Italy was the only high-income European country where female BMI may have fallen from 1980 to 2008. Italy and Switzerland saw the smallest increases in male BMI during the study duration.

*Turkish women and Czech men have the highest BMI in Europe.

Global rates of high blood pressure decreased slightly between 1980 and 2008, but the study found variations across regions and countries. While the overall trends showed a drop in high blood pressure, the study notes that the number of people with uncontrolled hypertension increased from 605 million in 1980 to 978 million in 2008, due to population growth and aging.

High-income countries had large reductions in hypertension, while low-income and middle-income countries had growing rates of hypertension. High blood pressure is the top risk factor for heart disease deaths, causing more than 7 million globally each year, according to the study. The authors suggest that salt intake, fruit and vegetable consumption, obesity and overweight levels, and use of antihypertensive medications determine many of the patterns seen for hypertension levels.

Some of the hypertension trends among countries include:

*Highest hypertension levels are found in Baltic, East African, and West African countries.

*Among high income countries, the lowest rates for men and women were found in South Korea, Cambodia, Australia, Canada and the United States. The highest blood pressure rates were found in Portugal, Finland and Norway.

*Men had higher blood pressure than women in most world regions.

While the average global cholesterol levels held steady between 1980 and 2008, a closer examination shows that cholesterol decreased in Australasia, North America and Europe, while levels increased in east and southeast Asia and Pacific regions. Japan, China and Singapore all showed low cholesterol levels in 1980 that rose by 2008. The researchers attribute those rises in cholesterol to dietary changes that include more animal products and fats.

Other cholesterol findings include:

*Western European countries like Greenland, Iceland, Andorra, and Germany have the highest cholesterol levels in the world, while African countries have the lowest cholesterol levels

*Greece has the lowest cholesterol for men and women among Western high-income countries. The United States, Canada and Sweden also had low cholesterol.

Explaining how the research may help to fight heart disease globally, Ezzati said, “The findings are an opportunity to implement policies that lead to healthier diets, especially lower salt intake, at all levels of economic development, as well as looking at how we improve detection and control through the primary health care system. Policies and targets for cardiovascular risk factors should get special attention at the High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Non-Communicable Diseases in September 2011.”

The papers were written by Ezzati, Dr. Goodarz Danaei of the Harvard School of Public Health,  and colleagues, using data from published and unpublished health exam surveys and epidemiological studies. They are part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization.

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soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. Maria

    Why is it that no one seems to mention that the rise in obesity is also accompanied by the aging of the population? Like it or not, it's a lot harder to lose weight once you're past 40 and the baby boomers are getting older.

    February 3, 2011 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brent

      But their babies are also much fatter than they were when they themselves were babies.

      February 4, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • LC B

      Agreed – and why is that no one mentions the thousands who 'quit' smoking, and discovered the joys of eating, instead? At nearly sixty years of age, I decided that smoking tobacco wasn't killing me fast enough, so I quit – and have discovered that obesity probably won't kill me fast enough either! Ah, the foibles of humanity, and it's rules.

      February 4, 2011 at 09:48 | Report abuse |
    • Gen Anx

      Diet, exercise, burn more calories than we take in during the day. It's really not that complicated. The fad diets and "easy" weight loss pills are also part of the problem. Diet pills don't worker. It's about modifying behavior and consistent exercise.

      February 4, 2011 at 10:01 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I understand what you mean Maria but I have to disagree to some extent. If you stay in shape and eat properly, there's no reason why you have to gain weight or develop "middle age spread" as you get older. People don't gain weight simply as a consequence of aging but because people tend to get more complacent and lazier as they do. So yes, people do tend to gain weight as they age but it isn't an automatic condition of aging.

      February 4, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse |
    • Michael Wong

      There is actually no rule that says you have to get obese when you get older. Even if you gain weight, you can still avoid crossing the obesity threshold unless you're not taking care of yourself.

      February 4, 2011 at 10:10 | Report abuse |
    • Spacial

      Not true about the age. I am in my late 50's and fit as a fiddle. I eat right, exercise and take the proper vitamin supliments. Granted there are some people with glandular problems causing obesity but 80 percent of the problem is people not taking care of themselves. I am living proof if you put the correct effort into it you can stay slim and fit. Americans have become lazy and stuff themselves with feel good food. I have no pity for you.

      February 4, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse |
    • Dom

      Kids these days are in horrible shape, parents need to get more involved and spend less time in the office. Most families now have both parents working and kids are left to their schools to depend on exercise, yet many schools are considering cutting gym

      February 4, 2011 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
    • Debbie

      It's harder, but it's not impossible. I am 39 with 2 children. Through diet and exercise I have lost 7 in. overall and 15 pounds. I have realized my relationship to food is not what it should be. For me, I am working on balance. Everything in moderation. I am trying to "reset" my myself. I grew up thinking fast food is just how we eat on the go, that eating in front of the tv is normal, eating standing up is normal and a host of other behavioral snags. But that's me–every "body" is different.

      February 4, 2011 at 10:52 | Report abuse |
    • holeinthewall

      Actually, I think Maria has a point and I will also will add that people are having babies later in life. Why does this matter? Because contrary to what was previously believed you CAN pass traits to your children that you acquired from a bad lifestyle. So even if you were born a perfect genetic specimen but later got lazy and overweight THEN had children your kids would be more likely to be overweight. Conversely, if you had children while you were still in shape they would be more likely to be in shape themselves. This may seem contrary to what you learned in high school but scientists have indeed found this to be true.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
    • tesla1908

      It also doesn't take into account that they changed the parameters for obesity several years ago which in turn added more people into that category.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:42 | Report abuse |
    • SanityCheck

      Actually, obesity is soaring for the younger generations. Childhood obesity rates in the USA have more than tripled since 1980 (Source: Centers for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/obesity/ ).

      Losing weight later in life is not "harder" because of the body, but because individuals have been following unhealthy eating and exercise habits for decades, and breaking those habits is difficult. Think about what that means for the youth of today: a huge fraction of them will be obese their entire lives.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • imagonner

      so your saying only baby boomers are fat ?
      you need to get out more, check out a highschool football or basketball game.

      February 4, 2011 at 13:00 | Report abuse |
    • todd

      The key to not being overweight is not to diet, but to live by a healthy lifestyle. Meals need to be lean meats, vegetables, complex carbohydrates.

      Drinks should be water, skim milk, tea, and occasionally alcohol.

      snacks should be fruits, a single serving size of baked chips (no huge bags), air popped popcorn.

      Excersise should be moderate and often.

      You can't suddenly change from McD's and TV watching to a healthy lifestyle. And therein lies the problem. Most people lack that sort of discipline.

      February 4, 2011 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
    • SL11

      A lot of it starts at the young age and depends what conditions you were raised in. However, your parents can only control you up to a certain age and then you are on your own to make choices. My parents never made me do anything and everything that I have done is by choice.

      I am 25 right now and possibly in the best shape of my life. I was on few sports teams in high school and ate whatever I wanted. When I moved out to college i did not play sports but worked out and ran few times a week. I also always watched what I ate at the cafeteria. I drank about 1-2 times/ week as well.

      I was in school for few years and my last 3 years i lived by myself. I went food shopping twice a week and made my EVERY meal. I did not know how to cook or what it meant to eat healthy but I learned with time.

      after college i worked 50 hour weeks and managed to still workout and run few times/ week. I still cook my every meal instead of going out for lunch or dinner.

      I now wake up at 5AM to workout and go running and i still work 50 hours/ week. I drink about once a week as well.

      I look and my friends and other peopel and it is most of the time from pure lazines that you start gaining weight. I do everything in moderation. What i have observed in the past few years is that people do stuff in extremes. For example i see people get overly excited about going to the gym. They do nothing but go to the gym, drink protein shakes, read workout magazines, order 10000 suppluments etc. Its all garbage! You should enjoy working out.

      In cocnlusion, I drink, smoke (M), eat pizza, lay around on my couch, work 50 hours/week, workout, run, sleep, nap, cook, eat out etc. and Iv managed to maintain a six-pack for the past 10 years.

      You can always make it work no matter if you are getting older, have kids, or a workoholic.

      February 4, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
    • David

      We as a world culture are so brainwashed by all the ads for quick meals on the go. No nutritional meals that "they the companies say taste good". We've taught ourselves what tastes good. It takes a bit of self rewiring but it can be done. Eating healthy in most countries does not cost a lot. If it does trade off the television for nutrition. Grow your own on your porch in pots if you can. Most people I know that are overweight are incredibly lazy and want quick fixes and absolutely no movement or exercise. It has to be a life style change to get into fit shape and moderation. But the Food and Drug Commissions of the world have to really have the gumption and audacity to stand up to the lies that most of the sellers of "food" are cramming down our throats. Look at most fast food places, what is really of food value on their menus? Tomatoes and that's about it. Lettuce has very little value unless consumed in large portions and fired potatoes are useless. You truly are what you eat.

      February 4, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • Lothar

      If you go into an old age home you will find very few fat people. The problem with middle age weight (over 40) is can also be directly related to the downward trend of smoking. Ass we all know quitting smoking cause weight gain. Take your choice on how you want to die.

      February 6, 2011 at 06:20 | Report abuse |
    • Lothar

      If you go into an old age home you will find very few fat people. The problem with middle age weight (over 40) can also be directly related to the downward trend of smoking. As we all know quitting smoking cause weight gain. Take your choice on how you want to die.

      February 6, 2011 at 06:26 | Report abuse |
  2. dichack

    Search on the web "Wise Health Insurance" if you have a condition such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, cancer, depression or have had an injury, like a broken leg and need health Insurance NOW.

    February 4, 2011 at 00:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ALLY

      All of my friends eat fast food. No one cooks. My friends are middle class – engineers from top schools, physicians' assistants, principals and owners of small companies. They eat: Hamburger/bacon and eggs for breakfast, McDonalds for lunch and steak/beef tacos/macaroni n cheese or beefy lasagna for dinner.

      They will openly admit they don't eat vegetables other than tomato, lettuce, onion and a few grains like wheat and rice. One friend told me the only time they bought vegetables was when we visited - four times a year. Another friend was given zucchini and yellow squash fresh from his elderly neighbor's garden as a gift. They threw it out the moment the door was shut. They had never eaten zucchini before. Many of them did not know what an avocado is, had never had eggplant, celery, rutabaga or any other vegetables. They drink pop, and think it is odd that I drink plain water.

      The people mentioned above are not overweight (yet)- but by age 25 all of them are "pre-diabetic" according to their doctors. Many of them have already had diabetic blackouts. I know that in 10 years they will all have diabetes. 🙁

      They all say diabetes has nothing to do with diet & lifestyle - that it is a "random occurrence" of nature.

      February 4, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
  3. thumper1


    Scroll down to the sweetener consumption graph to see when High Fructose Corn Syrup came into play as a sweetener. Hmmmm, yep....right around 1980. Crazy, huh?

    February 4, 2011 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RStar

      and a lot of people seems to be forgot that 30 years ago we did not had food,that 50%chemicals and 50% nobody knows what.Company's like Monsanto,slowly killing not only the earth,but people as well.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse |
    • pnishimu

      Listen to Thumper people, wake up, inform yourself with the truth about sugar and HFCS:

      Sugar the bittertruth:
      by UCSF department of Endocrinology professor Dr. Ludwig

      February 4, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
  4. 40,000-ft. View

    No one ever sets the goal of becoming obese (unless perhaps they're an actor preparing for a role), nor does obesity happen suddenly, rather it happens gradually over time. Taking these two obvious facts together, we realize that in about 95% of cases, obesity is a behavioral aberration: people don't respect and pay sufficient attention to their own bodies. I'm thin, I'm fit, I'm over 40, I'm not an athlete, yet I eat things like Baconators and Twinkies on a daily basis without any health problems. How do I manage this? I pay attention to my body, not in the sense of personal vanity, but in the Buddhistic sense of respecting physiology as the foundation for mental and emotional activity in the material world. If there's an obesity epidemic (and I'm not so sure there is), it probably derives from a general sense of alienation from one's own body. So pay attention, people!

    February 4, 2011 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • becky

      If you truly respected your body you would never ever eat a twinkie!!! They, and other packaged snakcs should not be considered food 😉

      February 4, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • LC B

      Hey preacher – hope you can sing the same song at 60 years – but I bet you won't, if you keep ingesting Twinkies? Retch . . .

      February 4, 2011 at 09:53 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Taking care of it in a Buddhistic sense? Have you seeeeeeeen buddah? 😉

      February 4, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • almxx

      We must note that 40yrs is not very old, unless you compare it to the 1800s, when people ate natural foods, worked in the fields in the sun all day while breathing unpolluted air, slept like a rock at night, and died in their early 50s. Not enough exercise, I guess.

      February 4, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      You're lucky that your body can handle that junk, but don't pat yourself on the back for it.

      A lot of overweight people are much more careful about what they eat, but we're not all the same and different bodies handle foods differently.

      I can't handle any starchy carbs, not even brown rice or air-popped popcorn.

      February 14, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse |
  5. Bob

    Maybe indicative of the spreading of our Western processed diet throughout the world.. Eat your fresh fruits and veggies.. organic is best!!

    February 4, 2011 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DrFood

      Organic food is a scam. Sorry.

      February 4, 2011 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
    • LC B

      Better yet – grow your own – square foot gardening for all!
      P.S. – some of the heaviest folks I know are strictly vegetarians! go figure . . .

      February 4, 2011 at 09:55 | Report abuse |
    • Debbie

      I am not sold on organic but you are right on with the "processed nation". I special order my bread(hearth baked), cheeses, oils and herbs and wait ferverntly for the neighborhood farm to open. If people cannot get sold on organic, just think natural-no bar codes as Tosca Reno would say.

      February 4, 2011 at 10:57 | Report abuse |
    • tesla1908

      Don't give others advice if you don't know what you're talking about.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      Organic tastes better.

      February 4, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
  6. iShane

    Profit > nutrition, Sugar > High Fructose Corn Syrup......IN EVERYTHING.....stop the sugar water.

    February 4, 2011 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Art Barnes

    This is the French Fries Generation, Snacks, Canned Foods, FULL OF SALT. and Eating No Greens. Artemus

    February 4, 2011 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Artemus

    Oh , those quart size Belly Washers, that people get with the meals, your suppose to drink when your thirsty and eat when your hungry, the sad and dumb thing about Americans is we think we have to wash the food down. That is absolutely untrue, ask any doctor or nutrionist. This is where most of the Obesity come from, and laziness also comes with welfare.

    February 4, 2011 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brent

      Or what about the "all you can eat" buffets? For some reason people feel the more they can stuff down the more they are getting their monies worth.

      February 4, 2011 at 09:49 | Report abuse |
  9. LC B

    Yuppers – another brilliant response from a member of the 'thinking' generation – one who chooses to not judge, or perpetuate the divisions of our broken, hurtful society! NOT . . .

    February 4, 2011 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jesus

    It's all about the rise in corn syrup in our food and the rise of the fast food outlets over the last 50 years. People eat what I consider garbage today. High fat and calorie content with little nutritional vale.

    February 4, 2011 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • metoo

      Amen. Big Business takes food in its natural state, strips it of its nutrients, pours corn syrup and isolated grain gluten and other assorted chemicals into it, then they sell it back to us in attractive packaging. Restaurants serve huge portions of this food as well, trying to lure in the customers. People sensitive to this end up being infinitely ravenous and continuously craving more food. It definitely contributes to obesity and diabetes.

      February 4, 2011 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
  11. Artemus


    February 4, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Jay Kay

    Most of the fatties are Americans. Their diet is awful and they pretty much sit around all day doing nothing.

    February 4, 2011 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amy

      excuse me, but i play video games when i sit around so don't say i don't do anything!

      February 4, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
    • 300Cooper

      I go out and work on my beer muscles every weekend! thats a lot of work...

      February 4, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
    • metoo

      And most of the non americans are supremely superior. I think the article says obesity is on the rise around the world.

      February 4, 2011 at 15:15 | Report abuse |
  13. Ben

    Americans are lazy. There is no other excuse.

    The most commonly broken "New Years Resolution" always involves heath concerns. It's either to quit smoking, exercise more, or to eat right. But that takes work, and Americans don't like work.

    We'd rather grab some McDonalds (super-sized of course) and turn on some "Must See TV" instead of cooking a healthy dinner, going for a quick jog, or (God forbid) go to the gym.

    We encourage our children to sit in front of a television or computer screen with their video games instead of getting them involved in sports or other outdoors activities. How sad is it that the NFL has to tell us to make our kids exercise?

    We'd rather look for the next fad in dieting, miracle pill, or piece of equipment that only needs 5 minutes a day instead of eating healthy, exercising regularly, and doing anything that requires some actual effort.

    Well, I have no problem with being the minority here. I'd much rather spend my weekends hiking and climbing. I'd much rather go to the gym and seek self-improvement instead of listening to a mechanical audience laugh at bad sitcom jokes.

    February 4, 2011 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Youngest1

      To Ben........Well Said!

      And don't forget drive through windows and remote controls. In my opinion, they both encourage people to be even lazier. When they go to a fast food restaurant, they order their extra large burger, super size fries and giant soda drink without even getting out of the car. Perhaps if they saw a rear view of themselves, they would think twice about what they are about to eat. Then.........when they get home, they plop down in front of the television and use the remote control to change the channels, all the while digging into a bag of chips and another soda drink. No wonder this country is getting fatter all the time!

      February 4, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
  14. Brent

    Contributing factors to obesity:
    More processed foods
    More sweet foods
    Larger portions served
    'burbs – people drive instead of walk as cities are poorly planned
    TV and video

    any one want to add some more ideas here?

    February 4, 2011 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ben

      Those are all good points, but you left out the #1 factor:


      Everything we do is a choice. That includes our activities and diets.

      February 4, 2011 at 10:08 | Report abuse |
  15. Truth

    Sloth and Gluttony make for some fugly people.

    February 4, 2011 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • metoo

      You forgot to add "superior judgemental self righteous perfect people" to the list of fuglies.

      February 4, 2011 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
  16. Eve

    Soon the Earth will cave in from all the weight!

    February 4, 2011 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jim

    Fat cells and Cancer cells are the only two cells that never stop reproducing in the human body. And, if you check the data, obesity patterns are a good indicator of future cancer patterns. That does not bode well. Check the data and eat a salad. Not drowing in dressing please.

    February 4, 2011 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. All Girl

    People are getting bigger and someome was smart enough to see that and made a liner for under the abdominal fold. called a pambra's. there are many reasons people are heavy,

    February 4, 2011 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. ace

    My husband and I started more healthful eating and an exercise regiment. He went from no exercise to moderate and I went from moderate exercise to vigorous exercise. We are eating significantly less and exercising more, but only have dropped maybe 3 lb a piece since January. It doesn't make sense. We have been true to our New Years resolution (not perfect but pretty darn close) and energy in vs energy expended does not equal weight loss. We are both 40. There is more to this than simple energy expenditure.

    February 4, 2011 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jay Kay

      Don't get discouraged. Sounds like you're on the right track so keep up the good work!

      February 4, 2011 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      Have you checked your BMI (Body Mass Index)?

      I am 6'1, 225 lbs. If you look at a chart, I am overweight (even close to obesity on some charts) However, I only carry 4% – 6% body fat. Muscle naturally weighs more than fat, so weight is not the best measure of health. The best measure is in ability. Can you run further today than the first day you started? Can you exercise longer and harder? Do you find yourself becoming full after eating smaller portions? Those are the best measurements.

      Also, it's early February, and I'm assuming you started at the beginning of the year. Despite what they tell you on tv, you won't see significant results for at least a couple months. It sounds like you (and your husband especially) are making up for years of neglect. I don't say that to be mean, so please don't take it as such. It's a simple matter of your body adjusting. Your body has to adjust to your changes before it will start to change.

      The important thing is to make the change in lifestyle. The worst thing you can do in making that change is to set a predetermined goal (i.e. a certain weight).

      February 4, 2011 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      What do you do for exercise? And what exactly do you eat and when?

      February 4, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • ace

      I follow weight watchers. He follows a diet given by a work wellness program. They are compatible. He walks about 45 minutes and I spin about 50. I started spinning about November and worked up to the 50 minutes. I am getting full eating less and can go on exercising longer if I want to.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
    • ace

      Thak you all for the encouraging words.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      I tried weight watchers...my problem with it was that I can basically eat ANYTHING within the allowed points; plus I would use up all my points on the weekend...it did not work for me because I was still consuming carbs...even within the allowed points, I would eat pasta, potatoes etc...even if that was whole wheat...Therefore, I stopped WW and just put myself on a veggie and protein diet ( grilled veggies, fish, chicken) and for my carbs intake I would have 1/2 to 1 cup of Cheerios as is...
      Of course I would also have a fruit or too.

      I do not know what you eat or what your husband eats, and I do not like to give advice, esp on the subject I do not know a lot of, but perhaps you should be mindful of the carbs you are eating.
      Or perhaps you do not and my minutes of writing this and your minutes of reading this went to complete waste 🙂

      February 4, 2011 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
  20. Lee

    For the average weight vs age chart, see:


    Men weights typically peak around 40s, and drop after that.

    February 4, 2011 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Me

    I never really understood the concept of "burn more calories in a day than you take in"...How is it possible? I eat about 1300 calories a day ( I am a woman trying to lose weight...10lbs lost so far so yay)...I go to gym every day and do cardio for one hour so I burn about 400 cals...and I work full time so I sit on my butt the whole day...So please do tell me...how do I lose 1500 cals a day?

    February 4, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Auticus

      You burn calories from breathing. standing. Walking. You even burn calories from eating. A typical male will burn around 2500 calories a day from existing. That's why males get put on 2000 calorie a day diets. Women burn about 1500 calories a day from existing. Exercise widens the gap of what you have taken to what you have burned.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:01 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Thanks for this information...I didn not know...

      February 4, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • watchmenowhey

      Also, it takes a difference of about 3500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat. So, hypothetically, if your normal daily life is burning those 1300 calories to survive and you're also burning another 400 every day at the gym, then you can expect to lose a pound about every 8 days you exercise. I wish you well in your endeavor!

      February 4, 2011 at 11:10 | Report abuse |
    • Me


      Thanks – I guess I should do more cardio and start strength training then...thanks again...

      February 4, 2011 at 11:19 | Report abuse |
    • Fric

      There are several place you may visit on the internet and just by answering a few questions about yourself like height and age, it can then tell you about how many calories you burn a day just by being alive. I'm a 46 yr. old male and I'm 5'11". It say's I burn 2,040 calories a day, just by living. 🙂

      February 4, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse |
  22. Mary

    Perhaps the rise in obesity is due to this BMI index nonsense, which didn't exist in 1980. It is the health community that has redefined obesity since then. If the health community arbitrarily decides that anyone over 100 pounds is obese - wow! All of a sudden, you have a lot of obese people. Perhaps we should encourage anorexia as a healthy alternative.

    February 4, 2011 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ben

      BMI refers to the percentage of your body that is made up by fat. It's far more accurate than simple height and weight.

      For example:

      Compare a "normal" person who is 6'0 and weighs 200 lbs to a professional football player with the same measurements. One is going to be considered fat while the other is considered to be the pinnacle of physical fitness. Why? Because one's body has a higher percentage of fat than the other. That's what the BMI measures.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Thanks Ben. I appreciate your explanation. However, every BMI Index that I've seen just takes into account one's height and weight, and that is all. So, in your example, the fit athlete weighing 200 pounds would have the same BMI as the "normal" person weighing 200 pounds.

      If the BMI Index actually took muscle, as well as fat, into account, then it would be a more helpful measure. Certainly more helpful than a chart that takes in your height and weight and merely tells you you're obese if they fall within a prescribed range. I have never seen a BMI Index yet that takes the third variable - muscle content - into account.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      That's because those BMI charts are improperly labeled.

      They are simply a personal "guideline". A lot of them are put out by the same companies that produce those fad diets, "miracle" pills, and 5 minute/day exercise equipment.

      A real BMI measurement is actually based on the body fat. You can get one done by any physician. Most personal trainers or fitness consultants know how to perform one as well.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
  23. Thomas

    Congratulations Earth, now you too can be fat like us Americans. Now if you can just become obnoxious jerks as well we might let you start immigration papers.

    February 4, 2011 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. watchmenowhey

    We're #1! Let's go out for pizza and beer to celebrate!
    It's sad to watch China becoming an obese nation as they develop modern eating and lifestyles such as automobile dependence. It's more than just joining a gym. Choose to live where you can walk to work, grocery, etc. You don't see obese, middle class people (poverty is an exception) living in Manhattan or Washington, DC or San Francisco.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Peter

    High fructose corn syrup ( Corn ) is essentially the biggest culprit for the world.

    The US is the leading exporter of Corn in the world.
    It contains extremely high amount of Omega – 6 a leading contributor of obesity.

    However, companies came out with ingenious ways of turning this corn into processed products with names like maldextron, HFCS and others that many food industries adopt them because one, its cheap and its in abundance.

    Cows are fed corn, chickens are fed corn, pigs are fed corn, almost all the meat product based food sources are fed corn. These high Omega-6 contents go straight into our meats and thus we the people consume them.

    These animals natural food source is NOT, I repeat NOT corn. They eat grass. Yes, cows eat grass, yes chickens eat grass and yes pigs eat grass. There is a growing (although very small ) movement among organic farmers who are getting together to form grass fed meat movement.

    Just take a look at the movie "Food inc" on youtube to get the bigger (hidden secrets) of the food industry.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cherrymama

      I watched it. Yikes. Beef was the scariest thing. Our family decided to invest in a cow every year. No hormomes, or junk food, just a steer from a field. The meat quality was amazing! There was no fat to drain after cooking. I haven't eaten store bought beef since, or eaten a burger for that matter. I wish more folks could/would do the same.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:58 | Report abuse |
    • hunnykins

      OMG Peter – I swear the sound of trumpets ans angels singing is going off here at my house, the sound of enlightenment. I KNEW HFC in every processed food known to man was a huge culprit in endless hunger and obesity. It never occurred to me that meat from animals fed with corn had that stuff remaining in the flesh. I just assumed it got metabolized by the animals digestive process. THANK YOU!!!!! There has to be a natural beef and poultry producer here in my area, and I'm going to find them. And I am pre-emptively apologetic to anyone who wants to use this as a platform to urge us to go vegetarian, or vegan. Sorry, not for us, have a nice day.

      February 4, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
  26. Bwrobinson

    I just lost 14 lbs in 1 month by diet and excercise. Joining a gym and using the tools at http://www.livestrong.com/myplate helped. 10 bucks a month gym membership is all it cost me. What's your excuse fatty?

    February 4, 2011 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Fric

    I'm 46 years old and about 3 weeks ago, I weighed 214 lbs. I'm 5'11" and have quite a "tool shed." My eating habits were terrible. Although I'm not a fan of fast food, our home cooked meals were the good old fasion fried this, and fat that. By medical standards, I am considered obese. I don't think I am, but let's humor them. I decided to start eating healthier.

    I have all but eliminated bread and potatoes from my diet. I eat a lot of fish, chicken and veggies. Drink a lot of water and eat a lot fruit. I have started walking as well. In less than 3 weeks, I have shed 12 lbs and I have still been eating like a horse. My caloric intake has been cut in half and I stay full. My back feels better, I have more energy, and the walking is sculpting an apple of a hiney. 😉 Guess you gotta get sick and tired of being sick and tired to live a healthier lifestyle. I just hope I can keep it up. 🙂

    February 4, 2011 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fric

      I guess I should add that I cut out the soft drinks. I allow myself one Coke Zero a day. Also, I would like to point out a typo.....I actually started off at 224 lbs. and not 214 lbs. This morning, I weighed 212 lbs. Good luck to those of you looking to loose a few. Peace. 🙂

      February 4, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
  28. jackybb94

    Just tie medical insurance rates to your BMI. People will lose weight or they will have no money

    February 4, 2011 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cynic

      Yes, and to heck with the freedom thing that lets you decide for yourself how you want to live.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse |
    • fuzzynormal

      If you want to abuse your body and "live free," that's great, but insurance companies have a right to pursue capital as they wish. Insuring healthier people makes sense because they'd make more money.

      This is how insurance companies are structured already, just in much broader parameters.

      If a insurance company DID come out with such a BMI plan I would consider that company. After all, why not join a plan that would be cheaper for those that took care of themselves?

      Those that did not, could still live how they wish, but they'd have to pay the price.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
  29. Cynic

    Yes, maintaining a healthy weight is important. However, I think that the people in this country would be wise to obsess about exercising their minds as well as their bodies.

    Of course the US government is encouraging us to maintain a healthy weight. Everyone knows that a master wants healthy slaves.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. fuzzynormal

    People are personally responsible for their own health. With that said, the industrialization of farming and the corporations that have taken over food production have created a global infrastructure that creates the least nutritional foods as the cheapest. They do what they have to do in order to make money. That's what they're designed to do.

    However, in the past, even if you were poor, you would typically buy healthier food. Why? Because there weren't as many options to buy pre-processed food with the excess salt, corn-syrup, and preservatives . The cheap stuff WAS the raw food staples. Not anymore. Now, you can consume 7,000 calories a day of cheap food and still be terribly under nourished.

    You need to be financially stable to really afford a health food diet.

    The corporate system has produced an abundance of food. No question. Problem is, it's junk food.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Cynic

    Unfortunately, considering the way in which the food Nazis are longing to control us, dying early might be a preferable alternative.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. big John

    You want fries with that?

    February 4, 2011 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. jackybb94

    Life insurance rates tied to weight
    Car insurance rates tied to driving record
    Flood and home insurance rates tied to where you live
    Medical insurance tied to BMI . It makes perfect sense. The only people that wouldn't aggree are obese people...Cynic

    February 4, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • person

      I actually agree with you 100%, I've never been considered in the "overweight" end of the BMI other than when I was pregnant, and that was all lost w/in 3 months. I would say, that if someone could prove, by spending all their own money, via tests or gene mapping that they are in fact genetically predisposed to being overweight (so 2-10% of the population), that they could get in at a bit of a reduced rate, rather than just going off their BMI.

      February 4, 2011 at 21:46 | Report abuse |
  34. lily

    Genetically altered food causes genetically altered people. High rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, ADHD, autism, and cancer are ways that our bodies are reacting to chemicals that we cannot process. Because genetically altered food is cheap and highly accessible compared to organic it is considered a 'good thing'. The long term effects are increased health problems and increased health costs. If it's cheap, easy and tastes good, then it most likely isn't good for you. Jack Lalanne was right – if man made it- don't put it in your mouth. If you don't care about your health, then don't expect taxpayers to pick up the tab for your medical bills.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Grumpster

    One thing that got introduced into the schools systems was vending. When I went, they were JUST introducing sodas and some other vending. Now it's everywhere. 240 calories slurped 2-3 times a day, with fewer gym classes is not helping. Also, every time I go overseas, I see a MARKED increase in fast food places. I don't think anyone really needs to do the math on that one to see the correllation...I have seen a fatter and fatter asian population each time I go back, with a corresponding increase in Mickey D's fatburger stands and Colonel Sanders deep-fried chicken joints.

    A big resounding "DUH" to the writer for missing out on this one.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Lee

    It is sad but we knew this day would come as cheap highly processed foods make their way into international markets. I recall one study that showed 20 yrs after coca cola enters a country in mass, that country starts having obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc.... It is sad that our "infection" of junk foods is making the rest of the world as sick as us..

    February 4, 2011 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. jackybb94

    Need a weight loss drug that kills your taste buds. I had radiation on a tumor in my hear for 30 days and I lost all sense of taste for 4 months. Not onloy couldn't i taste anything but anything i put in my mouth tasted horrible. I just ate enought to survive. Lost 50 pounds in 4 months with no exercise. I just started to exercise when My taste came back...so did the 50 pounds

    February 4, 2011 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. BigPicture

    We are living in a world of higher stress, longer hours, and low income. People who have little money and time, who are also, and rightfully so, stressed out, will make poorer food chioces. Depression is linked to cravings for foods that are not healthy for us: high fat, and high sugar. Additionally, people with low incomes often can only afford low income foods. Produce is much more expensive than processed, easily prepared foods, This is where you have folks living on hotdogs, macaroni and cheese, pastas, processed chicken, fries, etc. It's cheap, it's easy, and it gets the job done. These folks also tend to have bad health insurance (if they are afforded any at all) and/or high copays. This means more money out of their pockets in order to take time off from work to get to a doctor, where they pay for their care. Let's not assume that these folks have access to income based health insurance either, as many people are in that gray area where they make too much money to qualify, but too little to pay for their care AND make all other ends meet for their families.

    I certainly don't have an answer for all of this, but we have to start somewhere. Poverty is certainly linked to poor health – both physical and emotional.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Doss

      Gluten. Look at gluten!! It's not the "answer", but it's a significant part of the problem!!!

      February 4, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse |
    • metoo

      Its not just the gluten and other chemicals, it's all that corn syrup too. Its all crap, the processed food. So readily available, too. You have to go out of your way and spend more money to buy natural foods. But its worth it, health wise.

      February 4, 2011 at 15:21 | Report abuse |
  39. Hank

    gotta love FAT Amurika... have some morals

    February 4, 2011 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • metoo

      Morals? Interesting judgement coming from an obviously narrow minded person like yourself. I'd love to see what your own trangressions are, to be so confident in your self righteousness.

      February 4, 2011 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
  40. Melinarockdj

    Many of you are on point with the healthy eating and exercise part. It find it funny that someone would complain about how much they work out and not lose weight. I forget her name, but she said she went from moderate exercise to vigerous and only lost 3 lbs. You do realize muscle weighs more than fat and it's not what your weight is as much as it is your body fat percentage. I lost 2 % body fat and gained 4 pounds because I added more strength training to my routine. It's not enough to jump on a treadmill and call that exercise. You have to add muscle and burn fat, there is a balance. Our food has been crap for years. It's cheap to eat like crap and hard to eat healthy. It can be done, you just have to actually shop and read labels.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me

      Except that the lady does spinning, which does not exactly build muscle...And also, you do not gain muscle in such short period...or so I read in articles and talked to personal trainers...

      February 4, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
  41. Doss

    I think where EVERYONE is missing the boat is in the massive amounts of Gluten that are in ALL foods these days!! Our babies are bigger because of the diets of mothers while the babies are in utero. Once they are born, all of the "supplements" that we feed them also have tremendous amounts of Gluten and Estrogen! Unless we as a population go back to a "pure" state of dieting (I'm just as guilty as anyone!!), then there will continue to be issues with obesity and weight gain. Even the Vegans aren't safe, unless they KNOW beyond a shadow-of-a-doubt that they have non-GMO seeds and plants! It's a whole new world out there. This is the new "normal"!!!

    February 4, 2011 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • hunnykins

      Not to downplay personal culpability regarding consumption and intake choices, but I agree. I also think that the copious amounts of corn syrup poured into 99% of the processed foods Americans eat has something to do with the obesity epidemic as well. Corn is just about the worst food you can eat. It has such an outrageous glycemic index that it is used to fatten cows and pigs. Now isolate the sugar of that food, and pour it into food meant for humans. I believe that is a contributing factor to the never ending hunger evident in the american populace. Automate just about everything, and let people live vicariously through the media, social media, and the internet. The irony is there are riots happening around the world because of food shortages and rising food prices. Its just crazy.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
  42. Tom

    One thing these articles always seem to leave out is that in 1998, the government changed the definition of overweight and obese. Overnight, 30 million Americans became obese or overweight without gaining an ounce. By the 1980 definition, there are actually less (percentage) people who are obese and overweight than there were then.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ben

      They were always fat, they just didn't know it yet.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
  43. Fatty McGee

    Whatever! It seems being obese is something you have to WORK at. I'm 45, eat pizza for breakfast, have a salad for lunch followed by two donuts and then two diet pepsis for dinner and I'm probably 4 fat lbs and a tan away from being on the front cover of Men's Health.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • hunnykins

      We should all have your body chemistry and metabolism, Mr McGee.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse |
    • Jay Blandon Ray

      Fatty McGee! I bet that's not even your real name!

      February 4, 2011 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      Cut out the pepsis and the other 4lbs will go away.The rest won't hurt you.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:34 | Report abuse |
  44. Cherrymama

    Has anyone seen the movie Wall-E? When everyone glides around on hover chairs because they are all too fat to walk? Kinda sounds like we might be headed that way!

    February 4, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Nancy

    I propose another study. Why don't scientists test whether the world rise in obesity is directly proportional to openings of McDonald's, Burger King, and Jack in the Box fast food chains?

    February 4, 2011 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. kstephe

    All of the chemicals in our food + large portions = Diabetes, Obesity and death by over consumption. Thank Monsanto

    February 4, 2011 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Rock God

    Anywhere you go on earth, you can always spot the Americans. They are the obese people!

    February 4, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jorge washinsen

      Everywhere on earth you will find that there is no recession in the undertaker business ever. All it can ever do is get better.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:46 | Report abuse |
  48. jorge washinsen

    Growth hormones added to our meat supply and engineered corn,wheat and rice.Body was designed for natural growing foods. There were no turkeys or chickens that were raised on natural foods that weighed as much as a 747 .We are what we eat. If food engineers had been around at the beginning no one would have ever known that flight was possible.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Lumpy Rutherford

    I wish the media propagandists would make up their mind. Is America fat or is it starving?

    February 4, 2011 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jorge washinsen

      Right now, I would consider politically correctness as the worst pestilence we have ever had to fight.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
  50. jorge washinsen

    It does not seem that staying gaunt and hollow eyed is necessary for good health, especially when we see the squalor some of the people on this earth have to endure.Some, I feel sure, would trade places with their heavier neighbors for a better life even if it might be frowned upon to be heavy.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
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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.