It's amazing what can be accomplished in 20 years. Although maybe not where weight is concerned. From 1990-2010 the rate of obesity amongst adults rose from 15% to 36% (21% increase) Let's take a look at my home state of Colorado, in the span of 20 years the obesity rate climbed from less than 10% to about 24%. 17% of children ages 2 to 19 are obese and 33% (12.5 million) are overweight or obese. You might think that this epidemic (according to the CDC) is a new phenomenon. Here's an excerpt from a March 1954 LIFE article, titled “The Plague of Overweight.” “Some five million Americans,” LIFE wrote, “medically considered ‘obese,’ weigh at least 20% more than normal and, as a result, have a mortality rate one-and-a-half times higher than their neighbors…. Another 20 million Americans are classed by doctors and insurance men as overweight (10% above normal) and are drastically prone to diabetes, gallstones, hernia, kidney and bladder impairments and complications during surgery and pregnancy.” (Read the full article here) Even more astonishing is the speed at which these rates have climbed. In 2010, “there were 12 states with an obesity prevalence of 30%. In 2000, no state had an obesity prevalence of 30% or more.” Feel free to read that again — and try to imagine the toll those millions upon millions of extra pounds will have on the health of those men, women and children, and on the nation’s economy. How much more will all of us pay for insurance every year because of this epidemic? How much economic productivity will be lost due to illness, injuries, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and other collateral damage from the immediate and long-term ravages of obesity? Suddenly, LIFE’s use of the word “plague” to describe this catastrophe feels perfectly apt. The CDC quotes that The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. There are many different ideas behind the ballooning weight of the US population although the wide prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle is one the biggest factors. Children no longer play outside as they did 20 years ago and are instead glued to technology. So what does the future look like for us?
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