Obesity in the US

Each week we’ll be pulling out one of your emails from our mail bag and featuring them here. Feel free to submit as many questions as you would like. All questions having to do with Nutrition, Weight Loss and Obesity-related health conditions are fair game.

“Dr. Kim,

I recently read an article that said that the United States has the highest rate of obesity in the world. Is that true?"

- Tiffany T, Rancho Santa Margarita

Dear Tiffany:

Amongst industrialized nations, the United States leads the world in obesity. However, if we include developing nations into the list, the United States only makes it into the top 10—but it's the only industrialized nation in the top 10.

Currently, the obesity rate in the United States is about 33%. That means that one out of every three people in the United States is obese. Before I go any further, let me define obesity. Obesity is defined not by weight, but by the Body Mass Index or BMI, a way to interpret your weight, given your height. For example, if someone were 240 lbs., you would think that person is obese. Yet if he were 6 foot 7 inches tall, that would be much different than if he were 5 foot 6 inches. In fact, at 6 foot 7 inches, he would be considered overweight, but not obese.

The rate of obesity has been increasing in the United States. The International Obesity Task Force predicts that, by the year 2025, the rate of obesity may reach 45-50%. A large part of why this is happening has to do with the fact that Americans are eating much more than 20 years ago, about 250 calories more each day.

This began in the 1970’s because of changes in the U.S. Government’s agricultural policy. This change in policy made it more profitable for farmers to increase production of food staples like corn and soy beans. This made it cheaper for food manufacturers and restaurants to produce food. But instead of reducing the price of their products, they increased the serving sizes. A perfect example of this is the soda can, which started out at 8 oz, and then grew to 12 and then 16 oz. At certain convenience stores you can get 72 oz. of soda.

Beyond a more plentiful food supply and larger portion sizes, Americans have newer reasons to eat as well. First of all, food has become the new sophisticated hobby. With the explosion of the Food Network on television and the fame of celebrity chefs, food and wine have reached a new level as a form of entertainment. Second, with the recent development of the deal-a-day coupon sites like Groupon and Living Social, people are eating out like never before. As you know, these websites offer dining opportunities at steeply discounted prices. People are trying restaurants they normally wouldn’t have tried just because the prices are so low.

So Tiffany, these are just a few reasons why the obesity epidemic in the United States has gotten so out of control. There are a host of other reasons and the numbers are only expected to get worse. However, being a member of a weight loss program and attending the clinic on a regular basis is a proven way to keep yourself from being a part of that statistic.

If you are having issues with weight gain and obesity, visit one of our quick weight loss centers. Working with a medical weight loss center gives you access to quick weight loss programs, weight loss products and FDA approved medical weight loss pills under the guided supervision of an experienced doctor. Visit one of our Pasadena or Orange County medical weight loss clinics to get support and info about our easy weight loss programs.

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