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American Obesity Is Large And In Charge

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We all know by now that Americans are too fat. For whatever reason, we are tipping the scales at an alarming rate. In addition to all the health problems and health care costs associated with American obesity, we now have to deal with a new wrinkle.

Americans are so fat that airlines are having to remove life vests from planes to accommodate. That’s a good sign. So I guess if we crash, I’ll have to use the guy next to me for buoyancy since I won’t have a vest. Already Southwest Airlines is requiring extra large flyers to purchase two seats to compensate.

The problem is not just in the room needed to fit XXL folks onto the plane, but the added weight is causing all sorts of havoc with the plane physics by throwing off the weight differential and several other weight based calculations.

Passenger weight is most important on small planes where the weight can produce a much bigger strain on engines. A 2003 small plane crash in North Carolina that killed all 21 people aboard was blamed on excess passenger weight.

I realize that this is just another in a long string of stories and complications based on American weight. Everybody and their brother is coming out with explanations and ideas for slimming folks down – but I honestly don’t think anything will make a significant or lasting difference in our current culture.

The other day some soda producers group announced a plan to limit or remove the selling of sodas to schools (well actually it’s only to grammar schools and middle schools – high schools can have all the soda they like). Most consider this little more than a token gesture, but it highlights what I believe is the true issue; our culture is killing us.

The culture operates in a way that is completely counterproductive to health. We spend most of our lives at our desks, the rest of the time we spend eating or watching television or sitting at our desks surfing the internet. We drive everywhere (even from one store to the next in the same parking lot). We get very little exercise, very little sleep and everything is rushed and hurried – we don’t even have time to sit back and enjoy a meal, let alone prepare one. So as a result, most of our food is fast too AND it’s all pre-packaged so it’s loaded with sugar and salt. Want to have some fun? Next time you are in the grocery store (a regular one, not a health food store) try and find a loaf of bread that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup as one of the ingredients. Even if you go out to a restaurant, the portion sizes are ginormous and you still don’t know what’s in your food.

But what’s the alternative – you can’t walk anywhere unless you live in a few select cities, you can’t work less hours, you don’t have the time to prepare healthful and nutritious meals – either because you don’t have time to shop, prep, cook and clean OR you don’t really want to have to go through all that everyday because you have so little free time and such high stress as it is.

Half the time you can’t even get anything healthy for lunch even if you wanted to. Where I work, I’d have to drive more than 30 minutes to find a restaurant that offered any variety of healthy choices – and then by the time I got there I wouldn’t have time to eat anyway.

Nothing in our current culture makes it easy to be healthy and it’s only getting worse. Everyday people have less and less time and fewer and fewer options. The only way we are ever going to change is if we completely change our approach to culture, work and food. And as radical an upheaval as that may be, it is not unlike the lifestyle in many parts of the world. Unfortunately our culture is corrupting other cultures and turning them into ours. Now all the people in these other countries are starting to get as fat as we are.

Since I don’t think we are going to change as a culture the only thing you can really do is change yourself and your life, which unfortunately is not easy. Until then you might want to pack your own life vest along with your own lunch next time you are on a plane somewhere.


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About Rudicus

  • I live in a car culture city. I find time to walk every day before work. A few of my co-workers walk every day as part of their break.

    If you really want to find the time to exercise, then you will.

    I am recovering from major surgery. I would love to be able to run upstairs. I would love to be able to run, cycle and ride a horse. These are things I cannot do at this time.

    You don’t have to eat healthy to be thin. Meal preparation doesn’t take that long with the advent of the microwave.

    You don’t have to eat the whole serving at a restaurant. You can find healthy alternatives at regular supermarkets.

    All cultures have changed and are changing because of electricity, gas-powered vehicles and other modern conveniences. For this reason, we must make other changes (dietary and physical).

    It does take a little effort, the willing to take responsibility for your own health and the willingness not to rationalize things away.

  • I have suffered for years from an endocrine disorder called PCOS and was never fat until the last 6-7 years.

    I have many reasons for the weight but knowing I have an insulin & hormonal issue does NOT preclude me from eating sensibly.

    My doctors also feel that crap that is being sold at the grocery store is setting off dangerous levels of insulin that we are not evolved fast enough (nor should we be) to handle.

    Good article.

  • I’ve always found that the “obesity craze” has been greatly exaggerated.

    Using airplanes as the standard for human health, is like using McDonald’s as the standard for animal health.

    Moreover, our own president who exercises like it’s his job is technically overweight, as are several prominent athletes. Until I see some geniune science behind this, I rank this up there with the so-called shark attack epidemic.

  • I lived in France for ten months and while there I kept thinking that Americans weren’t that fat. I’d see a few chubby Frenchfolk walking around and feel a little satisfaction that they weren’t all super skinny.

    We got back a couple of weeks ago and went to Gatlinburg, TN (not the place to find exceptional American culture in any form, but still) after about an hour my wife turned to me and said “Wwe really are a fat bunch of people” And it was my thought because nearly everyone was munching a waffle or a big ice cream cone while their enormous bellies hung out in front.

    I literally live a mile and a half from my work place, but I still have to drive because it is simply not safe to walk along the highway to get to the building.

  • Obesity is putting a huge strain on health care costs as well, which everyone ends up paying for (the U.S. gov’t is doing very little about this, but that’s a whole different discussion).

    Great header to this piece!

  • Obesity is one thing that you can’t really blame the media on. You can, but you’d really have to push it. With most celebrities being thin, wouldn’t you expect people to try to slim down, not slim out?

  • With a media flood of thin people washing down burgers and fries with huge size sodas, and eating tall stacks of Pringles in one bite, and refusing to share a big bag of Doritos with a friend, and yet somehow still staying thin, the public gets bombarded with a highly deceptive message about what it takes to keep healthy.

    The subconscious effects of this massive propaganda machine can be overcome, but not without strenuous conscious effort.

  • I’ve been dieting for about 15 months now and have come down from over 85 kgs to something over 78!

    I hate to sound self-satisfied but I’m as pleased as f–k; I have the right kind of body shape, I visibly have a pelvis for the first time for ten years and I also have a large collection of clothes that no longer fit!!

    It all started with the launch of a Summer Tapas Bar which my wife, Ursula, and I ran last year at the rural villa we have in Spain.

    We were so busy that it was always difficult to find time to eat so we just started eating Tapas when we were too hungry to carry on working. Some times we would eat 5 or even 6 times a day! And we lost weight!!

    When the Tapas Bar closed at the end of the Summer, we decided to just keep going with the routine. Of course we still have the occasional full meal, but we are basically just eating absolutely anything we want, no cutting out of all our favourite foods and all the other rubbish that makes dieting so boring and disheartening.

    I have since found out that this kind of diet is called Portion Control, which you can read a formal definition of here, with a touch of life-prolonging Calorie Restriction (read more here) thrown in for good measure.

    You can read all about my attempts to lose weight on my foodie blog All I Ate Today.

    Eating less by eating smaller portions seems to be the easiest way to lose weight and avoids many of the problems of many other diets which demand a relatively restricted range of food. This diet means you can more or less eat anything you want, whenever you want, just eat less.