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Americans are fatter than ever and processed food is to blame

Created by paustian on Jan 8, 2020, 4:50 PM

 

Before diving into this article we need to clarify how being obese is measured. There are many ways to measure obesity -- waist circumference, % body fat, and body mass index (BMI) are three examples. The CDC used BMI, which is a person's weight divided by their height. This isn't the best measurement, as there are examples of healthy muscular athletes, having high BMIs who are clearly not obese. However, for the average person, it is a good indicator of how much fat they are carrying. Now, that its clear that this is a reasonable way to measure obesity, here is the chart:

Obesity in the U.S. has risen from 13.4% in 1960 to 35% in 2012

Chart created from data provided by the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity_adult_11_12/obesity_adult_11_12.htm)

We have an obesity epidemic in this country and it's not going away. In fact, the most recent estimates predict that 42% of the country will be obese by 2030. This is a major health problem and is projected to cost 48 billion dollars more a year to deal with the extra cases of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and cancer that are all increased by obesity. The question is why?

A recent research study by Dr. Leigh A. Frame from George Washington University shows a strong correlation between consumption of ultra-processed food and obesity. The foods that had the highest correlation with weight gain included potato chips, sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts, refined grains, red meats, and processed meats. Eliminating these foods from the American diet would likely decrease the rates of obesity.