It should come as no surprise to anyone that obesity has been on the rise in America, but just how much might shock you. I recently ran across the website for the “State of Obesity“, a project of the Trust for America’s Health sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The project, which seeks to “raise awareness about the seriousness of the obesity epidemic and present ideas on how to overcome it,” recently produced it’s 11th annual report – a 136-page summary with startling implications. Among other findings, the report revealed that today nearly 70% of American adults are either overweight or obese. Just three years ago, in 2011 that number was 35%. Obesity is clearly reaching epidemic proportions at a fast rate.
The report raises awareness, but also should raise a sense of gratitude. Reading the study makes us aware of how blessed many of us are to have access to numerous choices of foods to eat. Most of us are within walking distance of fresh produce, and a myriad of healthy foods. Others aren’t so fortunate and the study points to tremendous disparities along socio-economic lines. For example, only 8% of African-Americans live near a supermarket, and over 35% percent of adults over the age of 26 who did not complete high school were obese, compared to 22% of college graduates. Within these groups are people who have no immediate access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and many of whom don’t feel safe enough to exercise by walking around in their own neighborhoods, the report notes.
Maybe you’re asking what I found myself wondering – “What can I do to help this situation?” Clearly the first start is taking control of our own health. Let’s start by taking advantage of our access to nutritious foods and by maintaining a healthy BMI.
One encouraging statistic of the report was that childhood obesity rates are stabilizing in the U.S. after many years on the rise. This should encourage us to lead by example so that our children become one less statistic in the preventable condition that is obesity.