New Poll Shows Americans Have No Clue What to Do About Obesity


Late last year we heard that obesity had replaced hunger as the world’s biggest food problem. Here is just a sample from that report:

According to CNN’s analysis of the study, obesity rates have increased 82 percent worldwide over the past two decades. Obesity is now a problem in all countries except for those in sub-Saharan Africa, and its associated complications produce health burdens higher than those caused by hunger.

OK … so if obesity is such a challenge, then WHAT should we do? That is exactly what a poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research asked.

As reported at Greatist, the somewhat good news is that 75% of Americans think obesity is a serious health problem in the U.S. (why only 75%?), but aside from that there is no broad consensus on what to DO about it.

Most people recall NYC Mayor Bloomberg banning sale of drinks larger than 24 oz, and the nationwide freak-out that resulted as people worried about the intrusion on their personal liberties. Did they worry about the health issues, the rising cost on all of us as the nation as a whole gets fatter and less healthy? Of course not, because as with so many other debates the protection of perceived liberties is much more important than the protection of actual life.

So we know that popular pressure will not help get action around dealing with obesity. And given that the processed food lobbies are pretty much as powerful as the NRA, we can be sure we will never see legislative action, because if we care more about keeping our military grade arsenals than we do about protecting yet another group of kids from getting brutally slaughtered, you can be sure that there will be nothing done to help the more than 50% of our kids who are overweight or obese.

Government action CAN be effective: the 2010 world obesity number show that while the U.S. continued to rise sharply, “obesity rates have significantly slowed or stopped in England, Hungary, Italy, Korea and Switzerland, and have grown only slightly France and Spain.” How? The nations have passed legislation that imposed higher taxes on fatty and sugary foods. Simple, and apparently effective – they took the health risk seriously and acted … and got results.

Of course, the counter-argument is quite valid: look at what the government does when they get involved with kids and food! A child who eats ‘government approved’ school lunches is 30% more likely to end up obese than those who brought lunch from home. Any knowledgeable parent who looks at the food served in most schools today will not think of it as ‘healthy’ or ‘balanced … and will more likely be reminded of the Reagan administration trying to allow schools to count ketchup as a vegetable in order to deal with subsidy cuts.

But the clock is ticking – every couple of years we get a new obesity report, and guess what? It keeps getting worse. The easy argument is that it is a matter of personal responsibility – and that is at least partially true. But as we have discussed in the past, the foods we buy now have different chemistry than 50 years ago do to the overproduction of corn, GMO infestation, rampant use of chemical treatments … not to mention the degree to which natural foods have been replaced with ‘healthier’ options loaded with HFCS and other additives. So simple ‘personal responsibility’ is less simple when you can eat less food and gain more weight simply because of the chemistry of how the foods are put together.

One thing IS clear: Obesity IS an epidemic, and our country is the #1 fattest developed country in the world – and by quite a large margin. I am not one to have the government impose new regulations, but it is clear that our current system of letting the fast food industry make the rules and laws is having the expected outcome … and that needs to change.

Categories: Health and Fitness, Rants and Raves


5 replies

  1. I watched a very interesting documentary on Netflix titled Fathead. In that, he does the exact opposite of Morgan Spurlock and loses weight while eating at only fast food places. When he was posed the question: Do you want fries with that? He said no. When he was asked to super size he also said no. He did something that some people who are on the anti-obesity side of things say we can’t do: Used his brain. He lost weight eating at places like Hardee’s, KFC and McDonald’s and will give you his food log if asked. Try that with Morgan Spurlock. He won’t. Later before the documentary wrapped he ate high fat and low carb and low and behold: he lost weight. His doctor was surprised. Plus he not just lost weight, but his lipid numbers all went the right directions too! Take a look. I don’t agree with the whole thing, but there’s a lot of great info in that documentary.

    Making something illegal won’t stop obesity. Just like it didn’t stop alcohol during prohibition. As an example, I will use Mayor Bloomberg’s policy in New York. So I can’t get a 32 oz pop at a restaurant. Well, I just bring my own cup and buy 2 24 oz cups, pour them into my cup and now I have the size I want. Not saying I would do that but you get the idea. No matter what we think, we can’t legislate the public to eat healthier. It’s just not going to happen. Try providing healthier school lunches as a requirement? The kid packs a lunch with his own cookies. You can try outlawing bag lunches, but then the furor would be huge. The more and more I look at this, you really can’t make a law to fix this.

    I am also not sure that obesity has the same effect on everyone. If you look at me, a large guy even when I did have 20 lbs less, you would think I am on the cusp of Type 2 diabetes and have high cholesterol. Well, at my last visit, my labs were all normal with the exception of 2 items: my Blood Pressure (I am genetically disposed to that) and my HDL was too low. My over all Cholesterol levels were fine, my triglycerides top notch and my blood sugar was fine as well. Oh I forgot….my vitamin D was low too, but that’s actually common in my area of the country.

    Being obese isn’t a great idea though but maybe….just maybe…it’s not as bad as we think? I don’t know. The only thing I do know is it all needs more study and study that isn’t funded by the farming industry or the fast food industry or ANY industry other than one that wants to find the truth. It’s only by ignoring the influence of making or saving money will we EVER find the true answers to this.

    I DO know I am going to make every attempt to get back on track this year and eat better as well as exercise. Not exactly sure how I am going to do it but I will try.

    • A few questions:

      1) what was the overall calorie count of the guy on a fast food diet? If he ate an egg mcmuffin for breakfast and a plain burger for lunch and dinner, he only consumed about 900-1000 calories. Anyone would lose weight consuming less than they burned.
      2) High fat and low carb has been shown to be amazingly effective. But you need to pick fats carefully as some are not as good for you-studies are showing that natural fats like coconut oil, olive oil, etc will treat your body better than more processed fats like vegetable oil. Fast food isn’t using high quality fats, nor are they using quality meat, so while there may be an initial weight loss, eating poor quality high fat food can have a long term negative effect, especially with respect to carcinogens.
      3) If you are going to follow a high fat low carb diet, it’s best to read up on the nutrition of it, anywhere from Nerd Fitness to Marks Daily Apple and the Paleo Solution. Going into it thinking a bunless burger from McD’s is healthy because it’s high fat is a recipe for long term nutritional deficiencies.

      • I would love to see his whole food log. I might actually e-mail him to see if he’d send it. Just for the heck of it. :-) I know what he did do is forgo the fries, stay away from the ultra big burgers and watch the carbs he ate. He also did not drink ANY sugared soda(or pop as we call it) either. I also don’t remember the movie showing him eating many salads. Fast food salads have usually been worse for you than just getting the burger anyway. Especially if it had any sorts of meat. I checked it once and I was astonished. Chicken sandwiches are the same way. Anyway, check out the website for the movie and watch the documentary. It’s actually pretty entertaining too and touches on some good stuff from Gary Taubes and a few other places.

        I totally agree with you on number 2 and 3. I wouldn’t get a bunless burger either. :-) I think the biggest culprit are the really BIG burgers and the absolutely tremendously huge fries. Just cutting the fries should be a huge thing. As would going for the plain jane regular sized burger. If you need stuff on it, just lettuce and tomato.

        I won’t necessarily go to the extremes that some of the low carb people do that’s for sure. I like some of Mike’s tips he had the other day and have been applying them as well. Lots of veggies….something I don’t eat near enough of! :-)

  2. A simpler, more just solution may be to pro-rate healthcare costs the way we do car insurance for those deemed obese, thereby removing the increasingly intrusive (and corrupt) government from impinging on individual liberties.

    >So simple ‘personal responsibility’ is less simple when you can eat less
    food and gain more weight simply because of the chemistry of how the
    foods are put together.

    The solution then is to consume less calories and take note of what you are eating. Sure, if I eat a few ounces of lard versus two bowls of brown rice, yes, I am going to gain weight.