Wednesday, September 19, 2012


According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, more than half of Americans could be obese by 2030. The result will surpass simply living with excess bulk. We’ll see millions of new cases of diabetes, coronary artery disease, and stroke—a constellation of illness that could cost the United States up to $66 billion in treatment and over $500 billion in lost economic productivity.

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of American adults are obese today. “Overweight” and “obese” are technical terms. If you’d like to know where you fit in, divide your weight in pounds by the square of your height in inches, and multiply the result by 703. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds and are five feet six inches (that is, sixty-six inches) tall, your calculation would be

 140     x 703 = 22.59
  66 x 66

The result, here 22.59, is your “body mass index,” or BMI. If your BMI is between 25 and 30, you’re overweight, and above 30, obese.

What are we going to do about this? New York City’s recent strategy, limiting sugar-rich drinks to sixteen ounces, has been met with outraged cries of “Nanny state!” It's not only widely opposed, but ineffective, as a determined customer can buy two sixteen-ounce drinks. Or four.

I’m disappointed that we respond to this menace by debating what the government can or should do about it. What can citizens themselves do? Why have so many of us lost touch with our own bodies? Why aren’t we more concerned about our ballooning kids? Our problem is less obesity than failure of consciousness. What does it take to wake us up?

1 comment:

  1. Obviously, more than we are willing to do, Jeff :-(