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July 28, 2007 11:54 AM   Subscribe

The progression of obesity in America (where one's BMI is greater than 30) from 1985 to 2005.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (108 comments total)

 
Oy vey. I can't wait for WWIII.
posted by nasreddin at 12:07 PM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nothing to see here just keep driving.
posted by meddeviceengineer at 12:09 PM on July 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Interesting. For some reason I assumed that the BMI leaders would be the coasts (due to the higher average income of the populace) or the mid-west/fly-over states. The concentration around the Mississippi surprised me.
posted by lekvar at 12:11 PM on July 28, 2007


Pretty nice animation. Original maps are here.
posted by googly at 12:11 PM on July 28, 2007


In Alaska's defense, most of that is winter weight.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:14 PM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


"The concentration around the Mississippi surprised me."

Not a fan of hush puppies, are you?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:14 PM on July 28, 2007


I assumed that the BMI leaders would be the coasts (due to the higher average income of the populace)

Obesity is more and more correlated with poverty: cheap food is loaded with fat and sugar. If you can afford it, you eat much healthier meals, and cook them from scratch at home.
posted by nasreddin at 12:14 PM on July 28, 2007


Times are changing, now the poor get fat (1976?)
posted by jet_silver at 12:19 PM on July 28, 2007


Great title for the thread.
posted by papakwanz at 12:20 PM on July 28, 2007


The fingers you have used to dial are too fat. To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now.

anachronism. see, if you had dialed, you used an actual dial. there would have been no keypad to mash.
posted by quonsar at 12:21 PM on July 28, 2007


Don't be such a prescriptivist, quonsar.
posted by Mister_A at 12:24 PM on July 28, 2007


I like how it seems to spread out like a virus.
posted by quin at 12:25 PM on July 28, 2007


LOLPOORPPLZ!
posted by davy at 12:26 PM on July 28, 2007


I'm glad they discovered that obesity is transmitted socially; maybe now I can track down the fucker that gave me the fatz and kick his tubby ass.
posted by The Straightener at 12:30 PM on July 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


Obesity spreads to friends, study concludes. Here's a link to the original NEJM study.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:31 PM on July 28, 2007


Well, good on Colorado for holding out as long as they did.
posted by absalom at 12:37 PM on July 28, 2007


Its not that people are getting fatter, its that the BMI is SHRINKING!!
posted by wfrgms at 12:37 PM on July 28, 2007


I have a way to eliminate most of the obesity in this country: Set the cutoff to BMI>40. I mean, functionally, that has already happened; anecdotally, I see schools full of kids that would have been "the fat kid" in one of my elementary school classes; and the kid that's now "the fat kid" is often a 220-lb 4-foot-8 6th grader or similar. Kids get type 2 diabetes now.

This paper suggests that the correlation between socioeconomic status and obesity is less strong than it used to be. It's from 2004 but the data are pretty solid - NHANES data from 1999-2000. The gist of it iss that, while everybody has gotten fatter, people with "higher" socioeconomic status have gotten more fatter.
posted by Mister_A at 12:45 PM on July 28, 2007


This whole social transmission thing makes me wonder if there isn't some mother slug out there like Brenda from Slithers who got the ball rolling.
posted by The Straightener at 12:46 PM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Obesity spreads to friends, study concludes. Here's a link to the original NEJM study.


I am an asshole for your sake.
posted by srboisvert at 12:47 PM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


...people were most likely to become obese when a friend became obese. That increased one's chances of becoming obese by 57 percent.There was no effect when a neighbor gained or lost weight, however, and family members had less of an influence than friends. It did not even matter if the friend was hundreds of miles away - the influence remained. And the greatest influence of all was between mutual close friends. There, if one became obese, the other had a 171 percent increased chance of becoming obese too.

Holy fuck, that's some scary voodoo.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:48 PM on July 28, 2007


I think that's something to do with quantum entanglement.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:50 PM on July 28, 2007


HURF DURF CORN SYRUP EATERS
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:50 PM on July 28, 2007


I think that's something to do with quantum entanglement.

A quark on the lips, is a lifetime on the hips.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:54 PM on July 28, 2007


I still think it might be a sign of some low-grade chronic communicable disease that increases appetite and/or slows metabolism. And in a lot of older people and people under psychiatrists' care weight gain and increased appetite is a side-effect of medication.

Given the "obesity epidemic," Mary-Kate's a HERO!
posted by davy at 12:55 PM on July 28, 2007


Sociology 101 people? Of course people with similar lifestyle outlooks cluster together. In other words, you can predict divorce and addiction from peer groups too, not just obesity.
posted by Firas at 12:56 PM on July 28, 2007


At the current rate of increase, how long until we're ALL obese? What then?

EAT CANADA.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:58 PM on July 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


I've personally taken steps to maintain my physical health. My wife and I eat well and exercise regularly. She still has some ways to go before she attains a healthy weight, but she's definitely getting there.

We have started gardening, and are intent on joining a local CSA. I takes time to eat right and be healthy. It also takes self discipline and patience.

Agribusiness loves corn and all that can be derived from it. It's been put in most foods. It is greed that feeds. It's just that we were never meant to consume such garbage.

The point is, to live a good life, you have to make a choice to play by a different set of rules. Yes, it is more demanding. But, the costs of doing otherwise are far to high for this geeks comfort.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 1:01 PM on July 28, 2007


PROD_TPSL that's a really interesting way of putting things, that the default lifestyle in industrialized countries tends to obesity and you have to consciously unplug to be otherwise. I'm not sure how accurate it is but it's definitely a good motivator.
posted by Firas at 1:03 PM on July 28, 2007


Seems to me that keeping a healthy lifestyle, and eating well is increasingly becoming a rich man's game. Now at 28, my metabolism is finally catching up with me and while I'm by no means fat or even overweight (6'1", 165lbs) I'm starting to get a gut, so I've started to try out a healthier lifestyle.

But, I love fast food - cause I work 11+ hours a day. I don't have time to cook a healthy meal. I started buying these little fruit dishes and salads and stuff at a Japanese convenience store on my way to work - but the bowls of fruit cost $3.75 and the salad (a small portion, mind you) is about $4. A "meal worthy" salad is close off to $7. And, naturally, I'm still hungry after those things. So, I try to just eat small portions of fast food (as low in calories as I can manage to find) later in the day.

I would bet, though I have no research to back this up, that the average working family is in a similar predicament. Nevermind having to cook for more than just yourself - if you've got 2 kids and 2 parents.. man, that's a lot of work. No wonder we're increasingly obese.

And while I know everyone likes to dole out Stella Award nominations for people who sue fast food companies for making unhealthy food, but I think they should be held accountable, and they should be providing a healthier menu of choices.

There's also an argument to be made that, because our medical system is in shambles, few people have the means to discover what's a healthy lifestyle or whether or not their eating habits will lead to heart failure (amongst a plethora of other conditions).

It's all related, so I don't think you can pin it down to one thing, but if the government at large wants to consider this a problem worthy of action -- the place to start might be with the fast food joints.
posted by revmitcz at 1:04 PM on July 28, 2007


Too fat to fight?
posted by kirkaracha at 1:16 PM on July 28, 2007


So, the south will NOT be rising, all that easily anyway.
posted by PHINC at 1:23 PM on July 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think the society thing is spot on. People's perceptions are all fucked up and they're reinforcing each others negative behaviours. Back when everyone thought it was OK to have 6 cocktails and drive home we all did it. Now everyone thinks it's OK to be 40lbs overweight so we all do it.

What is considered a "normal" body has changed radically since I was a kid (I'm in my mid thirties). Back in the 80s no-one, but NO-ONE, would have considered wearing a belly revealing top if you couldn't bounce a quarter off said belly. Visible fat rolls hanging over the side of your jeans in high school would have a major fashion faux pas. No-one accused you of being anorexic just because they could see your collar bones.

Now "normal" teens have visible stomach rolls, jowls and fat arms. At the same time it's become socially acceptable in most places to call skinny people unhealthy and people like Queen Latifah "normal sized" or "womanly". As if the default for a woman is overweight. I'm considered skinny by the women at my office and I weigh 170lbs! (I'm tall and I'm in good shape but I ain't skinny).
posted by fshgrl at 1:24 PM on July 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


I remember that when I was in elementary school very, very few of my school mates was fat. This was in the early 1980's so it's not THAT long ago. We had pretty extensive gym classes and recess was a state of constant motion.

I only started porking up when I moved away from my childhood friends. It was pretty much downhill from then on out. I came around after I decided to become a submariner. I exercised and came down from 285lbs 48" waist, to 204 and 36" waist. I'm 6'2" and I have a broad shouldered build. When I drop under 195 I start to look skeletal in the face, so 200 or so it is.

It was some work finding foods that did not include HFCS or partially hydrogenated oils. However, it really did pay off. I turned 29 just two days ago. I feel more energetic than I ever did in my prime teen years in HS. That is directly attributable to the quality of my energy inputs.

Garbage in, garbage out. Just like our digital brothers, we the electro-biochemical computers require high quality inputs for desirable outputs.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 1:26 PM on July 28, 2007


I resemble these remarks and I find them offensive. There's nothing more or less wrong with being overweight than there is with being underweight. We are all snowflakes, and some of us are ready-made snowballs. The Earth Is Fat.

So nyeah! =P
posted by ZachsMind at 1:42 PM on July 28, 2007


PROD_TPSL said: I takes time to eat right and be healthy.

I know you meant "It takes time," or maybe "I take time"... But, reading it verbatim, it would make a very cute LOLCATS picture.
posted by amyms at 1:49 PM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


In my defense, I didn't know the baked potato was loaded!
posted by blue_beetle at 1:53 PM on July 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I recently started work in a warehouse in an industrial park. None of the people I work with are obese, because our jobs involve eight solid hours of walking and lifting every day, but if it weren't for that...

The only food available for miles, unless you bring it yourself, is Wendy's, Burger King, etc., and even those are far enough away that it's impossible to run there and back in our half-hour lunch break. The people working at the call center down the street are quite noticeably chunkier.

I pretty much just lay the blame on the same drive-everywhere, big-box, pave-the-wilderness suburban sprawl that's responsible for everything else that's wrong with the world.
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:59 PM on July 28, 2007


PROD_TPSL that's a really interesting way of putting things, that the default lifestyle in industrialized countries tends to obesity and you have to consciously unplug to be otherwise. I'm not sure how accurate it is but it's definitely a good motivator.

I blame corn syrup, among other evils of modern processed food, and cars.

My food guideline is simple: if it's not something someone in 1950 would have been able to eat, I probably shouldn't be eating it. (Secondary guideline: no commercial sweetened drinks.) By mostly following this, I eat whatever the hell I want and I have to overeat A LOT (work at a place where every day we got lunch at the Italian deli with huge portions of baked ziti for $5) to put on weight. That goes along with the walking that's part of living in NYC. Granted i'm still young and maybe the metabolism hasn't dropped, but if I was eating roughly the same amount of McDonald's and frozen pizza I'd be putting on weight.

It's interesting to consider how food processing, which is nothing new, used to increase the flavor or nutrition in the food or give it natural preservative properties: bread, bacon, jerky, sauerkraut, etc. In recent decades food processing just makes things a bit more profitable while basically being very slow poison.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:00 PM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I remember that when I was in elementary school very, very few of my school mates was fat. This was in the early 1980's so it's not THAT long ago. We had pretty extensive gym classes and recess was a state of constant motion.

Wow. I just did an image search on google for current photos from the elementary school I attended, also in the early 1980s. My memory, and the one class photo I still have around confirms this, is that the vast majority of kids in my school were not fat. Not scrawny, and sometimes a little rounded, but definitely not obese. There was maybe one or two fat kids in each class, give or take.

The photos I just found, of contemporary classrooms at that same school, are strikingly different. In any small group of three or four kids (say, for academic events, or posed with a visiting author) there is one really big kid, who would have been the biggest kid in the whole school 20 years ago, but who now doesn't even stand out in the larger group photos.

And sure, this isn't scientific, and all sorts of other demographic changes probably have been going on in that town (I've never been back). I have no idea if recesses, school lunches, or anything else have changed, either. And certainly a lot of my skinny friends back then had very obese parents, so it wasn't like the "good old days" were all fitness and lo-cal. But still, what a striking change to see.
posted by Forktine at 2:05 PM on July 28, 2007


it's become socially acceptable in most places to call skinny people unhealthy and people like Queen Latifah "normal sized" or "womanly"

What really gets my goat is that Mo'Nique, always talking about her "healthy figure" and her "healthy appetite." Um, no. You're fat, Mo'Nique, and it's going to kill you.

People don't seem to understand that binge eating is still bulimia even if you don't throw up afterwards. It ain't healthy.
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:11 PM on July 28, 2007


Forktine: It might be interesting to see a time-lapse film with a bunch of those school photos.
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:14 PM on July 28, 2007


"it's become socially acceptable in most places to call skinny people unhealthy..."

THAT'S CUZ THEY ARE.

I accept that being obese is unhealthy, but being a little 'overweight' is not a five alarm fire. I prefer a lady with a little meat on her bones. What passes for beauty in the mainstream is offensive to my senses.

I've quit smoking. I've pretty much given up on alcohol. I've turned to turning down sex. I'm swearing off carbonated beverages in favor of teas, coffees, juices, and a lot of water.

If you take away my Wendy's dollar menu, I might have to start hurtin' sum peepelz. I do occasionally order the salad, but I pour their sad excuse for chili over it. It's not Heaven, but it's not New Jersey either. A man can only tolerate so much abstinence before he comes unglued.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:17 PM on July 28, 2007


ZachsMind, you're being way to ideological about this. I'll concede that in the grand scheme of things healthiness is an arbitrary virtue but there is a testable way in which obesity causes health risks to people whom it affects, in a way that being fit or underweight does not.
posted by Firas at 2:21 PM on July 28, 2007


I'd like to see that same graphic only this time compared to the percentage of moms working outside the home.

You remember mom? The woman who made you eat your vegetables? Only now the vegetable is fries with ketchup or something microwaved with cheese sauce...

I'm not blaming working moms as much as I am blaming the fact that processed food is taking over mealtime. When I worked, what went on the table was noticeably different than the times I was NOT working. A human has only so much time and energy and making a real meal that is tasty AND nutritious takes more time and energy than many families can muster.

Not to mention, that two-income families can afford to eat out or pick up something at the fast food joint much more often than a single income family.

And it really is true that perception of proper eating habits has changed tremendously. Used to be that people did NOT eat all they wanted at mealtimes. People were conscious of whether or not they -or their family and friends-were eating too much. Now, people don't care.

Finally, our society gives us fewer and fewer opportunities to burn these excess calories. Children who can't go outside and play like the previous generations did pile on those little extra fat cells and carry them into adulthood.
posted by konolia at 2:29 PM on July 28, 2007


Oh, and I must say that fat does not always equal unhealthy. I am still considered clinically obese but I can probably kick your butt in Spin class-plus my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are in excellent shape.
posted by konolia at 2:30 PM on July 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but cooking a good, healthful meal takes around 30 minutes, unless you're getting fancy. And things like the crock pot and an old-fashioned casserole still exist--processed food is easy so people buy it, but it is absolutely not as difficult as some would like to believe to make a meal from scratch. Pasta is fast and easy, as are sandwiches, rice dishes (the rice usually being the longest to cook at 40 minutes or less depending on type) and all type of Mexican food (tortillas, beans, etc. can make a LOT of different kinds of food).

It's way too easy to blame these so-called factors when the fact of the matter is, SHEER LAZINESS and lack of personal responsibility (you're the one who's making yourself fat! Not Kraft and McDonalds!) is fattening up our country. Until people start pro-actively trying to better themselves, this trend will continue.
posted by nonmerci at 2:43 PM on July 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


The issue isn't who is or isn't pretty. For me it's all an issue of the Cult of Consumption.

We fruitlessly argue over "Standards of Beauty" like we do over who likes or hates Bono. It's a total waste of time and irrelevant to the larger issue.

We are consuming our selves and our species to death. We seek to "fill" our lives and our selves with crap. We consume so far beyond our needs that it is choking us to death. It becomes a self perpetuating and self defeating cycle.

There is no appreciable difference between one person needlessly eating 6,000 calories a day, needlessly living in 6,000 square feet, and needlessly burning 6,000 gallons of gas per year... just because you can. Consume. Consume. Consume.

It's irresponsible. It's not sustainable.
posted by tkchrist at 2:44 PM on July 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


Zach, if you want to be fat, be fat, but don't pretend it's some noble statement. And you can be fat without taking shots at thin people, too.
posted by astruc at 2:46 PM on July 28, 2007


Hmm, someone from kirkaracha's "Too fat to fight?" link brought up an interesting point:

I'm certainly not disputing America's overall weight problem, but the Baby Boomer demographic is probably at their peak weight right now. I wonder what the chart would look like for adults 18-25, for example.
posted by porpoise at 2:55 PM on July 28, 2007


You know, what this country needs is a good famine.
posted by moonbiter at 3:04 PM on July 28, 2007


"I'm not blaming working moms as much as I am blaming the fact that processed food is taking over mealtime."

[ZachsMind does his excellent impersonation of a young Charlton Heston running through the streets of postapocalyptic urban America, although he looks more like an old Orson Welles sitting through a wine commercial]

SOYLENT GREEN IS MADE OF POLYUNSATURATED FATS!
SOYLENT GREEN IS MADE OF POLYUNSATURATED FATS!
LISTEN TO ME!!!1!!!ONE!! OMGOMGOGMGOMGOMG!
PEOPLE! SOYLENT GREEN IS MADE OF POLYUNSATURATED FATS! PEOPLE!

"...you can be fat without taking shots at thin people..."

So thin people can make fun of me but I can't defend myself? So that's your game. Fine. Whatever. Get any closer and I'll eat you.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:13 PM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


How about just saving the snark for the thin people that are actually making fun of you?

Get any closer and I'll eat you.

Ew.
posted by astruc at 3:18 PM on July 28, 2007


to blame?:

1)America's move from cities to suburbs (less walking)

2)America's move away from manufacturing - more desk jobs - information workers

3)video games - alternative leisure for children that takes place of exercise

4)both parents working - means no one is home to cook -or monitor what junior eats - so they eat more processed food which leads to higher intake of:

5)High Fructose Corn Syrup - introduced into processed foods from 1975-85 and now dominates - body processes it as fat.
posted by any major dude at 3:24 PM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but cooking a good, healthful meal takes around 30 minutes, unless you're getting fancy.

It's not the time that's the issue -- it's the effort. After 10 draining hours at work, I feel dead when I get home -- and not at all inclined to do anything except crack open a beer and plop in front of the pc. And my commute is only 15 minutes -- I can't imagine how it is for those who drive close to an hour each way.
posted by Slothrup at 3:36 PM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


All I can say is, Oscar's got his work cut out for him.
posted by rob511 at 3:43 PM on July 28, 2007


It looks like we may be in for a favorable change in farm subsidies in the U.S.
posted by exogenous at 3:43 PM on July 28, 2007


I wish they'd use a more reliable marker than the BMI. The BMI is often way off the mark. Look at revmitcz's post, up above: he's 6'1", 165 lbs, and claiming to be starting to get a gut. Now, I'm 5'11", and at 165 lbs I would be incredibly unhealthy - I was a competitive swimmer in high school, and even when I was working out so much that I was getting repetitive stress injuries from it and kept getting sick from the stress, I was still 180 lbs. I'd either have to be anorexic or incredibly ill to be 165 lbs, and even at that point the BMI would say I was fatter than him.

Or, to put it another way - put on 10 lbs of muscle and the BMI will say that you've actually gotten into worse shape.

I prefer body fat % myself.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:48 PM on July 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


I also think another factor in the obesity epidemic is portion sizes. People have this "clean your plate" mentality and stuff themselves until feeling sick at almost every meal. I've worked in the restaurant industry for over eight years and I see it everyday. You can basically eat what you want if you monitor your portion sizes. The gastric bypass surgery is forced portion control...proving that portion control works.

In reference to Revmitcz's comment:

The excuses that people don't have time to cook or the money to spend on healthy foods is ridiculous. You can make healthier choices at fast food places, but your lack of self control takes over and you can't help but order the super-sized double quarter pounder with cheese with a coke. Sheer laziness is to blame and you can't justify it. McDonalds even has salads, just don't put mayo based salad dressings or cheese on them. Opt for the grilled chicken sandwich (without cheese or mayo).

This is the fucking United States, we have more choices than we know what to do with. Just make the right one. Though it may not be as obvious, it's still there. I don't buy anyone's "don't have time" or "I don't have enough money" excuses. Stop making excuses for yourself and do something about it. The only one that can change you is you.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:49 PM on July 28, 2007


Avoiding processed foods containing high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, shortening, sugar, and high fat content is a start.

Cutting out refined and processed carbohydrates and replacing them with carbs from vegetables, fruit, brown rice, yams, sweet potatoes and oatmeal is a smarter way to eat.

Just changing those up will make a huge difference (yes, I said huge -- deal with it), but add exercise to the mix and you'll be on the way to a healthier posted by bwg at 4:05 PM on July 28, 2007


lean mass/body fat ratio.
posted by bwg at 4:06 PM on July 28, 2007


It's not the time that's the issue -- it's the effort.

You can make a nice filling sandwich in about 30 seconds, with all the effort of slicing open a roll, putting on some cold cuts and cheese, and spreading some mayo/mustard. If you want to increase the effort some, you can slice up some vegetables or make a hot sandwich.

So we've got a sandwich made of all sorts of stuff that's "bad for you" going by what the diet companies tell you. Mayo, meat, bread, cheese. However, people ate all that stuff 50 and 100 years ago and didn't become egregious lardasses. I'd think this sandwich is probably much healthier for you than a McDonald's salad or a "diet" Hot Pockets.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:06 PM on July 28, 2007


Weird how that link got cut off.

Anyway, do with it what you will. I'm just glad I'm no longer tubby.
posted by bwg at 4:07 PM on July 28, 2007


Exercise more. You can get away with eating a lot of shit if you just move your ass more.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:21 PM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Brandon, not quite, if you look at the number of calories in a cookie vs. the amount of exercise required to burn them off—it's way easy to eat more calories than even 3 hours of intense exercise a day won't set off.
posted by Firas at 4:35 PM on July 28, 2007


Zachsmind: So you actually traded cocktails and sex for Wendy's chili poured onto salad? Wow.

Inversely, years ago when I gave up the Dollar Menu my opputunities for alcohol-fueled social events and sex life exploded.

Must be some sort of zero-sum game.
posted by sourwookie at 4:48 PM on July 28, 2007


Zach's video is great, however.
posted by sourwookie at 4:54 PM on July 28, 2007


kirkaracha -- My friend the retired E-9 and I were discussing exactly this "Nintendo generation" problem today. His youngest went through Basic at Leonard Wood this spring, and, having played football in HS, he had no problem with the "daily dozen," the marching, the formation runs etc. But an awful lot of teens and young men were collapsing and puking after trying and failing to run a mile for probably the first time in their lives -- although, I commented to the Sar-Major, they probably had the best-developed thumbs and eye-hand coordination in military history.
posted by pax digita at 5:05 PM on July 28, 2007


Wow. One can watch that video clip and see that if teh terr0rists are patient, the USA will expire within the next decade without any outside influence at all. Simply keep that corn-based food economy going, and it all works itself out.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:10 PM on July 28, 2007


Well, with ethanol subsidies, the price of corn is going to spike, so hopefully to wrongs will make a right?
posted by chlorus at 6:03 PM on July 28, 2007


Brandon, not quite, if you look at the number of calories in a cookie vs. the amount of exercise required to burn them off—it's way easy to eat more calories than even 3 hours of intense exercise a day won't set off.

What you say makes some sense, but what I've experienced is that since I've gotten to the point that I can do 90 - 120 min of really hard exercise at a stretch, plus some weightlifting, I've gotten to the point where I'm snacking constantly and not putting on any of the the weight I'd burned off. I don't know for sure, but it seems reasonable to wonder if my bod's burning additional calories to deal with the effects of the weightlifting and speedmarching even when I'm not actually doing anything -- the old "rest is just as important as exercise" thing.
posted by pax digita at 6:27 PM on July 28, 2007


Guess it depends on what you consider to be worthwhile, SourWookie. I've done the cocktails and sex. The dollar menu comes with less headaches. I'd also wager tho, that you're half my age.

Of course the popular wisdom of the day is that if we don't drop our curly fries and onion rings in favor of diet and exercise, we're just letting the terrorists win.

...can ya pass the ketchup, please?
posted by ZachsMind at 6:36 PM on July 28, 2007


Oh. And thanks for the compliment. Glad ya liked it. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 6:37 PM on July 28, 2007


That map time-line thing is pretty compelling. I wonder how they accounted for the recent redefinition of obesity - was that about 7 or 8 years ago?

Wouldn't you know that I am living in one of the few remaining yellow states. So I can either lose 10-15 pounds or just move to a purple state.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:11 PM on July 28, 2007


if you look at the number of calories in a cookie vs. the amount of exercise required to burn them off—it's way easy to eat more calories than even 3 hours of intense exercise a day won't set off.

Yes, it helps to eat better, it helps a lot, but I've noticed since I started working out that eating some junk is ok. It's nothing you want to abuse, but it's possible.

But overall, it's much better to eat very well and exercise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 PM on July 28, 2007


Thank you Blazecock for posting something that once again lets any Mefite who swears s/he's not obese tell us all how much better than "the average American" s/he is. We all need every chance we can get to pontificate and pretend we're smart.
posted by davy at 9:37 PM on July 28, 2007


It might be interesting to see a time-lapse film with a bunch of those school photos.
Close enough?

posted by kirkaracha at 10:02 PM on July 28, 2007


I used to have a perfect BMI five years ago, until I got a job and started earning some money and eating out (at McDonald's mostly) and put on 30 Ks.
posted by hadjiboy at 11:13 PM on July 28, 2007


Fucking McDonald's.

And my fucking incapacity to ignore them. At least now that I'm out of a job, my eating out has come down, so hopefully I should *should* be able to lose some weight now.

/prays diligently
posted by hadjiboy at 11:16 PM on July 28, 2007


For comparison, here's the Canadian data:

In 1978-79, the adult obesity rate (BMI > 30) was 13.8%. (In the US, the rate was 15.0% in the 1976-1980 survey.)

In 2004, the adult obesity rate was 23.1%. (In the US, the rate was 32.9% in the 2003-2004 survey.)

So obesity has also risen sharply in Canada over the last 20 years, if not as rapidly as in the US.
posted by russilwvong at 12:08 AM on July 29, 2007


In regards to the difficulty of cooking- a few weeks ago, Mark Bittman had a piece in the NYTimes with a list of 101 simple meals that can be made in ten minutes or less. What I really liked about this is that, usually, when I order food or eat out- both things that lead me to eat unhealthy items or portions- it's because I'm mentally fatigued- I don't want to go through the ordeal of trying to figure out what I want to make/eat, and make sure that's okay with the ladyfriend, etc. The other night we used this list- just glanced through it until we found something we liked- and it was great. An easy recipe, with ingredients that we mostly had on hand, that we certainly wouldn't have thought of or found in the vast field of options that is allrecipes.com. And even though the recipe we chose wasn't exactly healthy:
99 Cook a couple of pounds of shrimp, shell on or off, in oil, with lots of chopped garlic. When they turn pink, remove; deglaze the pan with a half-cup or so of beer, along with a splash of Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, rosemary and a lump of butter. Serve with bread.
- there are plenty of options for that.
Tonight I was over at a friend's apartment, someone who has developed the unfortunate habit of watching reality TV out of a misplaced "so good it's bad" urge. I actually had to ask them to turn off Mo'Nique's Fat Chance, a beauty pageant show for large women, because it was intensely depressing. I think the sad thing is that we've gotten so hung up on the concept and pursuit of beauty that it has become impossible to talk about very real health concerns stemming from weight issues. Too often, I think, people who are overweight (and I'm dealing with my own weight issues) hear that they should lose weight to be more attractive, instead of for their own health.
posted by 235w103 at 12:23 AM on July 29, 2007


Too often, I think, people who are overweight (and I'm dealing with my own weight issues) hear that they should lose weight to be more attractive, instead of for their own health.

Social shame and stigmatization are powerful motivators.

I'll bet more people stopped smoking because of fear of being ostracized for yellow teeth and rank body odor, than of the well-understood health risks.

A little stigma might be a good thing. Unfortunately, with weight loss, it isn't an on-off binary thing as with smoking. We have eating disorders, where the stigma effect is too strong and becomes pathological.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:13 PM on July 29, 2007


Thanks for the tip about the Mark Bittman thing, 235w103. That article's golden. Here's a link.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:20 PM on July 29, 2007


I eat healthily and will cook meals from scratch almost every day, but I'm still overweight. The main problem is probably portion control, I give myself too much healthy food, which unfortunately is still too much.

It was compounded by not putting in enough time exercising, but I have been working on that. I've been doing long walks (at decent pace) and hiking.

Portion control will be the hardest thing to change.

---

On a side note, re: the "Nintendo Generation".

Now that Nintendo are pushing 'active' video-games, what will we call the kids of this generation? I propose "Generation XXXXL"

Will it only be the Sony- and Microsoft-playing kids that are obese in the future? Or will the Wii Balance Board have a maximum weight limit which will stop the seriously heavy using it?

Oh, the questions I have...
posted by knapah at 2:25 PM on July 29, 2007


Blazecock Pileon: "I'll bet more people stopped smoking because of fear of being ostracized for yellow teeth and rank body odor, than of the well-understood health risks."

I stopped smoking cuz taxes made it cost too much. The health risks, yellow teeth, body odor, etc., meant jack to me. The habit became too expensive. That was the straw that broke my Camel.

Healthy food is more expensive, and harder to get, than processed fast food. That's why I'm fat. When I got less than ten minutes in my commute to devote to getting food before I'm late for work, I ain't gonna go out in a field and mow my own salad or milk my own cow.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:02 PM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Zachsmind: Healthy food is more expensive, and harder to get, than processed fast food. That's why I'm fat. When I got less than ten minutes in my commute to devote to getting food before I'm late for work, I ain't gonna go out in a field and mow my own salad or milk my own cow.

Then get up 10 minutes earlier, or prepare your breakfast/lunch the night before so you can just grab it and go. You aren't fat because "healthy food is more expensive and harder to get." You're fat because you don't care to put forth any effort.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:29 PM on July 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


That sort of rhetoric doesn't help anything Mary. Time and effort *are* costs. If we have to figure out how to change the incentives towards being healthy we need to take convenience factors into account. (And yes, for various reasons, even besides the whole price distortion via farm subsidies thing, the direct price of unhealthy food is higher than that of healthy food. This is well-established. You need to buy less high-calorie stuff to get satiated than low-calorie 'balanced' stuff.)

These things get very complex because of the multiple factors involved (there's truth after all to the fact that people do like eating unhealthy stuff. It's yummy.) There is a lot of recent sociological and economics research out there about this obesity thing, I'll paste some links to freely available scholarly articles later.
posted by Firas at 3:52 PM on July 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


You all eat waayyy too much.
Waayyyy tooo much.

And of course eating the wrong foods only compounds the problem.
posted by notreally at 4:16 PM on July 29, 2007


I am possibly the only person in my circle of friends who is losing weight purely for health concerns. I think I'm hot chick already, the weightloss is because of very real weight-related issues in my family that I'm hoping to avoid.

This is interesting, because if I mention that I'm trying to lose weight because according to my bodyfat % and BMI I am overweight, I get told 'But you look gorgeous already! Why would you want to lose any more?'. Explaining that it has precisely zip to do with how I look and getting the other party to actually believe me takes a lot of effort - is it so difficult to believe that a) yes, I am actually carrying around a few extra kgs, even if *you* can't spot them, and b) no, I don't have self-image issues, I think I look just fine thanks.

On the 'cause' side of things - I am unsure how I got this way. HFCS doesn't exist in my diet - I'm from australia, and that stuff is a specialty sweets-making item. I don't drink softdrink, or juice, or have sugar in my tea or coffee. I rarely eat deep-fried foods (once a month, maybe). Even less often do I eat takeaway/fast food. I love vegetables, and we often go to the farmers' markets to get a few to add to a meal or several. Our standard 'fast meal' at home is a stirfry. My diet is reaonably low in fat, high in protein, and has a good amount of carbohydrate. But - portions. I have been taught from birth that I must clean my plate at every meal. And that I should eat until I am no longer hungry. There is some justification for this - both my parents experienced real poverty and hunger during their childhood, which meant that they both have the attitude that if food is available, it is a moral imperative that you consume it. Having never gone hungry in my lifetime, this obviously causes a problem. I don't have the famine to offset the consumption.

I am doing my level best to get fit, and reduce how much I eat - but I'm fighting against 20+ years of training and habit that made sense at the time. And seriously, there are only so many hours in the day, and I only have so much energy after earning the money that rather ironically puts food on the table.
posted by ysabet at 4:32 PM on July 29, 2007


I am possibly the only person in my circle of friends who is losing weight purely for health concerns. I think I'm hot chick already, the weightloss is because of very real weight-related issues in my family that I'm hoping to avoid.

This is interesting, because if I mention that I'm trying to lose weight because according to my bodyfat % and BMI I am overweight, I get told 'But you look gorgeous already! Why would you want to lose any more?'. Explaining that it has precisely zip to do with how I look and getting the other party to actually believe me takes a lot of effort - is it so difficult to believe that a) yes, I am actually carrying around a few extra kgs, even if *you* can't spot them, and b) no, I don't have self-image issues, I think I look just fine thanks.

On the 'cause' side of things - I am unsure how I got this way. HFCS doesn't exist in my diet - I'm from australia, and that stuff is a specialty sweets-making item. I don't drink softdrink, or juice, or have sugar in my tea or coffee. I rarely eat deep-fried foods (once a month, maybe). Even less often do I eat takeaway/fast food. I love vegetables, and we often go to the farmers' markets to get a few to add to a meal or several. Our standard 'fast meal' at home is a stirfry. My diet is reaonably low in fat, high in protein, and has a good amount of carbohydrate. But - portions. I have been taught from birth that I must clean my plate at every meal. And that I should eat until I am no longer hungry. There is some justification for this - both my parents experienced real poverty and hunger during their childhood, which meant that they both have the attitude that if food is available, it is a moral imperative that you consume it. Having never gone hungry in my lifetime, this obviously causes a problem. I don't have the famine to offset the consumption.

I am doing my level best to get fit, and reduce how much I eat - but I'm fighting against 20+ years of training and habit that made sense at the time. And seriously, there are only so many hours in the day, and I only have so much energy after earning the money that rather ironically puts food on the table.
posted by ysabet at 4:32 PM on July 29, 2007


Healthy food is more expensive, and harder to get, than processed fast food.

On the whole, false.

For about six bucks, one can eat a half-assed fast-food meal. Ten bucks if you want better quality.

For half that price you can prepare twice the quantity with negligible processed content, and do so in probably about the same time as it takes to purchase bad food at a busy fast food restaurant.

It is really quite astounding how obstinate people are about not admitting reality when it doesn't support their ignorance and assumptions.

But, hell, the reality of eating healthy has been stated time and again in these forums, and it seems that not once has a lazy lardass bothered to discover for him/herself that, hey!, those assholes on MeFi were goddamned right, after all — you can eat healthier, less expensively, and with greater pleasure!

And that is why there is a weight disaster happening in America: no one has the guts to admit they were wrong and make the changes necessary to improve their life.

myself included. gotta start exercising, dammit.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:25 PM on July 29, 2007


ysabet, has a doctor told you you need to lose weight for health reasons? Because body fat percentage is hard to measure precisely, and as discussed earlier in the thread, BMI is basically useless for individual diagnosis (though it may be useful for the type of study the FPP advertised, if it's loosely correlated with actual obesity.)
posted by Coventry at 5:40 PM on July 29, 2007


I am noticing a recent increase of people calling me ignorant whenever I disagree with them. I think this is suppose to make me angry. It makes me laugh. When you disagree with me, it doesn't make me stupid: it makes you wrong. *smirk*

The simple fact is that most human beings will go the path of least resistance. Some people enjoy going out of their way to spend a morning down at the Farmer's Market. Most people prefer to spend that time doing something - anything else - or maybe nothing at all.

Alotta people like to sit in front of their TV and "veg" while eating anything but vegetables. They're told to unlearn bad habits in favor of more healthy habits which take more effort and time - and those people are shocked to find the advice ignored.

"Swimming's good for you!"
"I don't know how to swim."
"Then get in the pool and learn."
"That'd mean I'd get wet, right?"
"Yeah of course."
"Howzabout I just stay on dry land?"
"Then you can't learn how to swim."
"Exactly!"
"..I don't get it."

No. No you don't. You crazy healthy people taking the scenic route. You don't get it.

Sure! I'll die of a coronary with hardened arteries before I'm 45, but I will have enjoyed myself along the way. I been to a farmer's market once. It smells funny. If it rains you get wet.

I'd rather do the drive thru at Whataburger. Doesn't smell funny. I don't have to get out of my car. The food tastes good. Farmer's markets don't have drivethrus.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:57 PM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am noticing a recent increase of people calling me ignorant whenever I disagree with them. I think this is suppose to make me angry. It makes me laugh.

It isn't about making you anything. I could not give a flying fuck how you react to what I've said. By the time people are calling you ignorant, they've written you off as a lost cause. You're not even part of the conversation at that point.

Do whatever you want. No skin off our asses.

Just don't bother dropping ignorant statements that flat-out contradict reality. "Healthy food is more expensive... than processed fast food" is false. Don't try pushing that sort of shit around here.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:22 PM on July 29, 2007


Coventry:

Yes, they have. I have bone density issues that are ... unusual for an otherwise healthy person my age. My bones and joints simply can't bear as much load as you'd expect. I need to reduce the load on the system as much as possible, which means both reducing my absolute weight and replacing fat with muscle, so at least some areas have a secondary support system. bf% and BMI are both useful here, if only as guidelines.

*shrug* Them's the breaks and all that.
posted by ysabet at 6:29 PM on July 29, 2007


five fresh fish says:

For about six bucks, one can eat a half-assed fast-food meal. Ten bucks if you want better quality.

For half that price you can prepare twice the quantity with negligible processed content, and do so in probably about the same time as it takes to purchase bad food at a busy fast food restaurant.


But in fairness, to compare apples-and-organic-apples, the crummy fast food option is a lot cheaper and more filling (and possibly faster) than buying a meal-to-go at the deli section of Whole Foods, much less comparing the cost of a Burger King hamburger with an organic-ethical-hormone-free-grass-fed-locally-raised boutique hamburger (around here, those run about $12 each, and are found in sit-down restaurants only; bigger cities may have more options). The at-home comparison is a box of generic mac and cheese, sold three for a dollar, compared to my lunch today of a small piece of $19/pound cheese, 1/3 of a $6 loaf of bread, about 1/4 of a $6 container of olives, and part of a $4 bag of salad. My lunch was super yummy, presumably fairly good for me, and took only a couple of minutes to make. But there is no way in hell that it was the cheapest way for me to eat, and it required me to have some $20 to $30 in groceries in my fridge to select from (not counting the salad dressing, etc).

I'm lucky to have the resources and hte freedom to make those kind of decisions. And a lot of the people who are saying "waaah waaah I don't have time to eat well" are just making excuses. But to say that it is cheaper to eat the way I do, than it would be to rely totally on prepackaged and highly processed foods, just isn't true. You can probably eat cheaper than even generic mac and cheese if you are willing to cook and eat rice and beans for every meal, and that is probably pretty healthy. But it isn't fast, convenient, or honestly all that tasty. (I've been there, done that, and am happy to have my rice and beans as an occasional meal rather than a repetitive can't-afford-anything-better grind.)
posted by Forktine at 8:06 PM on July 29, 2007


Zachsmind, so what you basically just said in your latest comment is that you're fat because you just don't give a shit. That it's easier to be fat and you just don't care to put forth the effort to be healthy. You know, that's fine if that's how you want to be. That doesn't make you ignorant. What makes you ignorant are comments like this:

"Healthy food is more expensive, and harder to get, than processed fast food. That's why I'm fat."

Care to contradict yourself further? There's no one to blame but yourself, your poor choices, and sheer laziness. And I don't know why you think that any effort to be healthy makes life less enjoyable.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:06 PM on July 29, 2007


Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Are you allowed to eat jelly doughnuts, Private Pyle?

Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, no, sir!

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: And why not, Private Pyle?

Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, because I'm too heavy, sir!

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Because you are a disgusting fat body, Private Pyle!

Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, yes, sir!
posted by bwg at 8:13 PM on July 29, 2007


The at-home comparison is a box of generic mac and cheese, sold three for a dollar

A box of Kraft Dinner? You doofus, that isn't any cheaper or healthier than the fast food burger.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:35 PM on July 29, 2007


The at-home comparison is a box of generic mac and cheese, sold three for a dollar

A box of Kraft Dinner? You doofus, that isn't any cheaper or healthier than the fast food burger.


No shit. I'm comparing cheap nasty food to much better, but more expensive food. Cheap eating out is the fast food burger; cheap eating at home is processed food in a box. I don't eat either on a daily basis; my point is that eating well is not necessarily cheaper (unless you factor in long term health costs, maybe).
posted by Forktine at 9:07 PM on July 29, 2007


I know I'm coming late in the game here, but I think one of the big problems with the fast food vs. healthy made-at-home food is that people don't have a clue how to cook. I'm in class with a girl who blatantly admits that she has no idea how to cook and she really isn't interested in learning. I'm lucky that I was able to learn how to cook from my dad, but many people don't have family members that have time to show them simple cooking techniques. That's not to say that I'm 100% making my own food. I'm lazy a lot of the time and I go for the take-out, but I have that knowledge were I to put in the effort to change my eating habits. What happens if someone wants to change their diet and they don't know how to cook and don't know how to learn how to cook? They make a salad that's not that great or overcook some chicken, realize that cooking at home takes too much effort for not that great of a meal and revert to their old ways.
If I go into my kitchen and think for three minutes about what I could make out of the food I find, I could make something that I find tastey that is also good for me. If someone who has no idea how to cook goes into even a well stocked kitchen (well stocked with only basic ingredients, that is, no box meals), they won't have a clue what to do even if they think about it for three hours.
posted by zorrine at 9:14 PM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't know how to cook, either, but I rarely have trouble finding recipes to follow. Google is a big help.
posted by Coventry at 3:42 AM on July 30, 2007


The gastric bypass surgery is forced portion control...proving that portion control works.

Not...exactly. It's portion control, but it also leaves less time/area of your stomach and small intestine to digest the food - so you don't digest everything you put in there perfectly.
posted by agregoli at 11:40 AM on July 30, 2007


ZachsMind: The simple fact is that most human beings will go the path of least resistance.

But this is a myth, really. It actually takes more time, effort, and expense to get in your car, drive to the local FatBurger, deal with the surly employees, drive home, and consume that "food" than it does to pitch something much healthier into the microwave or to fire up a burner and heat up a can of beans or something. Fast food is a great convenience, but that's its only advantage.

Even if you're going to go for fast food, you can still make healthier choices without any additional effort. A Subway club sandwich (6", no cheese, mustard instead of mayo or oil) is 320 calories. That plus a water or a Diet Coke is far more healthy than anything on the menu at Whataburger.

Alotta people like to sit in front of their TV and "veg" while eating anything but vegetables.

A lot of people are incredibly stupid. Taking their advice on anything--especially eating--is a bad idea.

They're told to unlearn bad habits in favor of more healthy habits which take more effort and time - and those people are shocked to find the advice ignored.

Well, that's all and good if you don't mind dying an early and miserable death due to diabetes. By all means, live your own life. But don't expect to be congratulated on making decisions that are clearly against your own self-interest, assuming you have an interest in living and maintaining some quality of life.
posted by wheat at 12:55 PM on July 30, 2007


Sure! I'll die of a coronary with hardened arteries before I'm 45, but I will have enjoyed myself along the way. I been to a farmer's market once. It smells funny. If it rains you get wet.

We'll be interested to hear your point of view after your first heart attack. Be sure to come back and post.
posted by papercake at 1:21 PM on July 30, 2007


I like how it seems to spread out like a virus.

I was thinking more like a grease stain.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:29 PM on July 30, 2007


I'm comparing cheap nasty food to much better, but more expensive food. Cheap eating out is the fast food burger; cheap eating at home is processed food in a box.

Processed food in a box is more expensive than making from scratch.

Your example of Kraft Dinner, f'rinstance. Purchased at the store, it's about a buck a box when it's on sale. Made from scratch, it's about ten cents of macaroni, thirty cents of cheese, and a splash of milk. Serves two.

Plus you can then fry up a bit of onion in butter, add a bit of mustard, and mix that into the cheese. Much tastier. Substitute a bit of cottage cheese for the cheddar, and you get a nicer, rounder flavour. Use white cheddar, which is the same price as coloured, too.

And there you'll have a healthier meal. No food colouring, less salt, more flavour, and not one bit of multisyllabic chemical processing poison.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:36 PM on July 30, 2007


Typical Fish Family Meals over the course of a week:

Bean burritos. Maybe a little high in the salt department, but no-fat beans. Toss in some lime juice when heating, makes 'em great. Tortilla, sour cream, salsa, chopped tomatos and peppers, maybe a pickled asparagus for odd flavouring. Delish, quick, dirt cheap!

Hash browns and eggs. A one-fry-pan meal. We cheat and use frozen hash browns. Barely any chemicals involved, afaik. If you're a ketchup person, try Heinz organic. It's a helluva lot better than the other shit.

Pasta. There are literally a bajillion ways to prepare it. Many of them are supremely healthy. Also, I occasionally make my own pasta; it takes about twenty minutes (and you have to have access to semolina flour, which might not be so easy as it is here) and is a few orders of magnitude better than dried pasta. But I'm lazy, so it's usually the dried stuff for us.

Fritatas. A few eggs and whatever good stuff happens to be in the fridge.

Mini pizzas. Tortilla or pita or whatever, with the usual toppings. Not bad on the salt and fat levels, especially compared to regular pizza. And one or one-and-a-half is about the perfect portion.

Soups. Stews. Chilis. These are all so freakin' brain-dead easy when you've got a crockpot that, honest to god, you should never, ever need to purchase canned soup/stew/chili again. My god, food prep has never been easier.

Various wok dishes. Easy, quick, healthy. And very little cleanup.

Lazy sushi. ("bowl sushi"). Rice is easy. Chopping veggies is easy. Slices of seafood are easy. You'd have to have some serious brain disabilities if you can't hack it.

Shit, nothing I've listed takes more than twenty minutes to prepare, contains sweet-fuck-all in the way of unhealthy chemicals, tastes way better than anything from a box or can, and is dirt-fucking-cheap to make.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:50 PM on July 30, 2007


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