(Photo courtesy of Plan 59)
You probably saw the headlines a couple of days ago, though you may have already forgotten them, because the message is depressingly familiar. Americans Fatter Than Ever, they keep saying.
This summary of the Trust for America obesity report has an interactive map (if you scroll down a bit) so you can click on your state to see how well it stacks up. (Or, well, out). The three states with the highest percentages of obesity are:
Mississippi - 30.6%;
West Virginia - 29.8 %; and
Alabama - 29.4%.
As opposed to the "best" states, which are:
Colorado - 17.6 %;
Massachusetts - 19.8%; and
Vermont - 20%.
Way to go Colorado! Well, at least for now. Because Colorado is getting fatter too--like most other states, their rates increased over last year's.
The report also tracked overweight kids for the first time, ages 10 to 17. The District of Columbia had the highest percentage (tsk, D.C.!) at 22.8%, and Utah had the lowest at 8.5 percent.
Now a previous CDC study had put national adult obesity rates even higher, at 32%. Does this mean we've lost weight since then? Well, no. In that study, they actually weighed people. This current report used a phone survey. Care to make an educated guess which one might be more accurate? "Ma'am? We're doing an obesity study, can you please tell me exactly how much you weigh?"
Lack of exercise is one of the culprits. The CDC found last year that more than 22 percent of Americans did not engage in any physical activity in the past month. This rose to 30 percent in Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. But just head to any mall food court and observe for a while--there are plenty of other factors involved, and these tend to be battered and fried and sugar-coated and jelly-filled and grilled and Supersized and smeared with mayo and piled with extra cheese.
So we've had another year of Speeches and Awareness Campaigns and Fussing and Wailing and Breast-Beating about Obesity, but it seems to have done little good. At least as far as the general population goes. Oh sure, there is the occasional victory when a school updates its vending machines or a big corporation starts up a fitness program. But from top to bottom our culture is almost Totally Screwed Up About health and fitness and does not appear to changing--at least not in the right direction.
(For just one example, take this appalling quiz, spotted by Lady Rose at Diet Pulpit.)
So this is just more useless Wailing, because the people who visit Cranky Fitness are those who read health and fitness blogs to begin with. Even if you have made mistakes in the past, or have crappy metabolisms and are struggling with weight issues, you are most likely not the folks who are ordering Triple Bacon Burgers and quaffing 1200 calorie milkshakes and refusing to walk any further than it takes to get from your couch to the car to drive it to Pizza Hut.
Nor are you the developers who are planning more communities with no running trails, parks, bicycle paths, or even sidewalks. You're not the parents who are stuffing your children full of sugar and transfats and plopping them in front of the T.V. to sit for hours at a time. You aren't the bureaucrats who declare candy bars a healthy snack food for kids. You're not the restaurant owners who refuse to include whole grains on the menu, limit vegetables to a few leaves of Iceberg lettuce, and drown everything in butter.
This post is really for the people not reading it right now.
And sure, all this stuff is hard, and harder when you're poor and overworked and underprivileged. But some people don't even seem to be trying, at all. And many of you here are struggling financially. And you're busy and tired and the last thing you feel like doing is exercising or making a meal using healthy whole foods at the end of a long day, when a bucket of fried chicken might taste just fine and is whole lot easier to come by.
But you try your best most days anyway and grumble when you can't find nonfat milk or fresh fruit at your company cafeteria because no one else but you seems to want it.
So what the hell, for the people not reading this, we're going to yell at you even if you can't hear us.
Take Care of Yourselves and You'll Feel Better! Eat More Healthy Stuff and Less Crap! Get Your Butts Off the Couch and Exercise! Teach Your Kids to Do All This Stuff Too!
Ah, that was quite satisfying to let loose. But Fat lot of good it will do.