Friday, November 20, 2009
We are eating ourselves to death
I'm taking a risk of offending here, but I don't mean it that way at all. It could be written about much of this country.
This particular post is prompted by an AP story by Mike Strobbe, pointing out that rates of obesity in the United States are highest in the Southeast and Appalachia.
On my recent incoming flight to Kentucky, an MD from the area who was sitting next to me pointed out that I would notice a large number of people with high body-mass indices. I expressed surprise, and said, "You mean noticeably different?" He said, "Yes."
I mentioned this story upon arrival to a number of my hosts at UK, and they confirmed it. They attributed it to the diet in their part of the world, combined with an increasingly sedentary population. Still I wondered, "How different can it really be?"
Then I noticed the breakfast buffet at my talk (seen here). And then a friend sent me a picture of the breakfast she was served after delivering her baby, with eight pieces of bacon.
There is much talk of the cost of health care in America. That talk tends to focus on the costs of doctors and hospitals, but a growing determinant of that cost is the diet and exercise pattern of our culture. I have previously posted slides from the CDC showing this trend over time. Sure, Kentucky and some other states are in the lead, but the whole country is following suit.
If I had taken pictures of the meals available to waiting travelers at Boston's Logan Airport, you would see similar patterns. A single sandwich with 1500 calories. A 32-ounce drink from the soda fountain with hundreds more.
We are eating ourselves to death.
Posted by Paul Levy at 11/20/2009 03:42:00 PM