Obesity Epidemic Getting Worse, What Happens When You Don’t Do Enough

US HEALTH BEVERAGE-OBESITY-DISEASE-RESTAURANTS

Here’s the thing with major problems. If you don’t take them seriously enough, they get worse. And worse and worse and worse. On Thursday, the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) released the 16th annual “State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America” report, and surprise, surprise, the obesity epidemic in America has gotten worse.

Just take a look at how many states had adult obesity rates of at least 35% in 2018, based on the report: nine. That’s Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia. That’s two more states compared to the seven that equaled or exceeded the 35% level in 2017. Oh, and back in 2012, the year the very first Avengers movie came out, not a single state had adult obesity rates that exceeded 35%. These numbers came from TFAH’s analysis of data from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

Is America doing well? Not with adult obesity rates close to 40% and childhood obesity rates close to 20%. Saying that “everything’s going great” would be reminiscent of this scene from the movie Thor: Dark World:

Here’s the breakdown of obesity rates by state (and DC) based on the report:

  1. (tie) Mississippi and
  2. West Virginia (39.5%)
  3. Arkansas (37.1%)
  4. Louisiana (36.8%)
  5. Kentucky (36.6%)
  6. Alabama (36.2%)
  7. Iowa (35.3%)
  8. North Dakota (35.1%)
  9. Missouri (35.0%)
  10. (tie) Oklahoma and
  11. Texas (34.8%)
  12. (tie) Kansas and
  13. Tennessee (34.4%)
  14. South Carolina (34.3%)
  15. (tie) Indiana and
  16. Nebraska (34.1%)
  17. Ohio (34.0%)
  18. Delaware (33.5%)
  19. (tie) Michigan and
  20. North Carolina (33.0%)
  21. Georgia (32.5%)
  22. New Mexico (32.3%)
  23. Wisconsin (32.0%)
  24. Illinois (31.8%)
  25. (tie) Maryland and
  26. Pennsylvania (30.9%)
  27. Florida (30.7%)
  28. (tie) Maine and
  29. Virginia (30.4%)
  30. (tie) Minnesota and
  31. South Dakota (30.1%)
  32. Oregon (29.9%)
  33. New Hampshire (29.6%)
  34. (tie) Alaska and
  35. (tie) Arizona and
  36. Nevada (29.5%)
  37. Wyoming (29.0%)
  38. Washington (28.7%)
  39. Idaho (28.4%)
  40. Utah (27.8%)
  41. Rhode Island (27.7%)
  42. New York (27.6%)
  43. Vermont (27.5%)
  44. Connecticut (27.4%)
  45. Montana (26.9%)
  46. California (25.8%)
  47. (tie) Massachusetts and
  48. New Jersey (25.7%)
  49. Hawaii (24.9%)
  50. District of Columbia (24.7%)
  51. Colorado (23.0%)

Let’s be clear here. The obesity epidemic is not an individual problem. It’s a societal and a systems problem. It is the result of broken systems that just aren’t being fixed. Our food system is now filled with added sugar, added salt, artificial ingredients, and ultra-processed foods. Our transportation systems are dominated by automobiles and highways, with a lack of adequate public transit and ways to facilitate biking and walking. Our social and economic systems are discouraging physical activity. Our environmental systems are full of pollutants and chemicals that may be affecting our metabolism. Our health system is failing to provide enough preventive and treatment measures for obesity. The list goes on and on.

As I have written previously for Forbes, the obesity epidemic is a catastrophe in slow motion. Like climate change and that funny looking mole on your butt, when catastrophes move more slowly, it can be harder for people to realize the consequences of not taking urgent action. This can mean waiting and waiting and waiting until it’s too late to reverse the problem. Howard Jones was wrong when he sang, “Things Can Only Get Better.” Until there is more aggressive and concerted action to fix these broken systems, things will only get worse.

[“source=forbes”]