With global obesity statistics on the rise generally, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to those who keep an eye on these types of figures, to learn that the USA is right up there in the top 15 fattest countries in the world. And a list of the location of the corporate offices of some of the top fast food chains in the world might provide an inkling of why this is so.
The USA after all is home to Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Dominos, Papa Johns, Sizzler, Wendy’s, Taco Bell and many many more. It’s also home to 16 of the top 25 performing soft drink companies in the world – Coco Cola, Pepsi, Fanta, Sprite, Mountain Dew, 7-Up etc. They’re all US companies, pumping hundreds of tons of fat and sugar-laden foods and drinks annually into the US market.
Where they’re eagerly consumed by a population looking for convenience foods and either ignorant or uncaring about the health implications of consuming so much fat and sugar.
Unfortunately, the flow on effect of these fast food giants to other countries is just as serious. Particularly when it comes to developing countries that had much healthier diets traditionally. The obesity rates in many Middle Eastern and African countries for instance, have skyrocketed since these fast food chains set up shop there. These countries now occupy most of the top 15 spots on the obesity table. Along with the US.
But back to the obesity problem in the US. Statistics released recently indicate that a whopping ONE-THIRD of adult Americans now have a BMI (body mass index) of more than 30. The following are the current BMI classifications:
- Less than 18.5 indicates the person may be underweight,
- 5 up to 25 is considered optimal,
- 25 up to 30 is considered overweight
- 30 and over is classed as obese
Translated into actual figures, this means around 13 million American children and 78 million American adults are currently classified as obese with a BMI of 30 or more! The average American adult is also now 26 pounds heavier than they were in the mid 1900’s.
Sadly, on a state-by-state basis across the US, the figures aren’t much better. The State Of Obesity, a non-profit organisation, recently released figures collected across all US states and to say they’re alarming is an understatement. 50% of US states have an average adult obesity rate of more than 30% – that means one in 3 adults in these states is considered obese. The other 50% have obesity rates of over 20%, so 1 in 4 or 5 adults is currently obese. You can see the full list here.
Other interesting information to come out of the study is that obesity rates in the central and eastern states are generally higher than in the western states. Obesity rates also increase as the age group goes up. For instance, the age group with the lowest overall obesity rate is also the youngest – 18 to 25 year old group. With the exception of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, 25% or less of people in this age group are obese across all states.
The next age group – 26 to 44 year olds, sees a sharp rise in the obesity rates in all states except Colorado, which rises from less than 15% to 15 – 20%. In most other states though the rate jumps to 30% or more.
In the 45 to 64-age bracket, things start to get really scary because 35% or more of people in this age group in over half the states are obese and in 6 states over 40% are obese. Colorado again comes in the lowest with only 20 to 25% of their population in this age group classed as obese.
The 65 and over age group then witnesses a sharp drop with all states except Hawaii falling into one of the 3 ranges between 20% and 35%. Elderly Hawaiians however are the healthiest bunch in the country – only 15 to 20% of them are obese.
And the cost of obesity related health care to the US economy? Well, the US Senate Committee on Finance reckons that comes in at more than $200 billion annually! That’s $200 billion or more spent treating people with health problems that in many cases are entirely preventable!