Weight of the Nation, Part 4

Today’s blog post reviews the final of the four-part series by HBO called Weight of the Nation. Those pursuing personal trainer education know that obesity in the U.S. has reached epidemic proportions. Being able to educate your clients about healthy food choices is going to be critical to your success.  Part 4 of this series discusses the challenges that face Americans in terms of food choices, the lack of neighborhood supermarkets in low-income areas, and a paucity of family farms producing something other than corn or soy.

One fascinating quote stated that Americans are spending less on food than ever before and more on health care than ever before.  Think about that.

Before you buy something off the dollar menu, ask yourself this: what is the real cost of this food?

-“In 1900, the United States Public Health Service started tracking the leading causes of death in America. The top three were pneumonia from influenza, tuberculosis, and diarrhea. Over the next half century, infectious diseases were replaced by chronic diseases as top killers.”

-The Center for Disease Control & Prevention states that the obesity epidemic began in the early 1980s.

-“Today, obesity is a significant contributing risk factor to 5 of the 10 leading causes of disease: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.”

-Many believe that obesity is the biggest threat to the health, welfare and future of our country.

-Chronic obesity has become the norm in our population. We have to figure out how to stop it. By 2030, some experts believe that between 32 and 52% of adult Americans will be obese.

-Currently over 36% of Americans have some form of heart disease. 25% of Americans have excess fat in their livers.

-Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, states “Our nation spends $150 billion a year in health care costs that area result of obesity.”

-“At current rates of increase, obesity-related health care costs are projected to exceed $300 billion by 2018.”

-Bill Hannah’s company (Nabholz Construction Corporation) was suffering on account of increased health care costs. He cared about his people and he knew that the company could not simply absorb the higher health care costs associated with poor health. Employees were screened and over 55% of the employees weighed over 200 pounds, 30% were over 225 pounds and 20% were over 250 pounds. The screening additionally showed that Nabholz employees had high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Obesity is a not a personal issue or a lifestyle decision. It currently costs businesses in our country over $70 billion annually and reduces productivity.

-Jack Shonkoff is the director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. He stated that “Biology is telling us that the roots of many health problems are laid down early in life.”

-Our food supply has become industrialized and was designed for excess.
The communities are no longer pedestrian friendly.

-Physical activity has been taken out of our lives. Currently 1 in 4 adults gets no physical activity at all.

-Restaurant portions are 2-5x what we need calorically.

-Lower-income communities suffer more from obesity and obesity-related diseases.

-Profit margin for fresh produce: 10% Profit margin for soft drinks: 90%
The increase in corn and soy production has had an impact on the obesity epidemic. (See the book The Omnivore’s Dilemma for more information.) Subsidies keep these products in overproduction. 50% of US farmland is dedicated to growing corn and soybeans. Farmers don’t get subsidies for growing fruits and vegetables.

-$30 billion costs hundreds of million in the health industry on account of obesity-related costs.

-Good Natured Family Farms is working with a group of farms around Kansas City. They are trying to make local foods more available and affordable.

Thanks for reading – I would love to hear your thoughts if you had a chance to watch the documentary series.