Thursday, July 16, 2009

Elizabeth Kolbert: "XXXL - Why are we so fat?"

In this week’s issue of The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert writes a short essay/book review on our national weight problem. “XXXL – Why are we so fat?” discusses several recently-written books, each with a different theory as to why we (collectively) are overweight.

“The Evolution of Obesity” pins our problems on our evolutionary development, “The Fattening of America” blames our weight gain on financial issues, “The End of Overeating” argues that eating has become entertainment and we’ve been conditioned to overeat, and “Mindless Eating” believes that we rely on external cues—not internal bodily mechanisms—to tell us how much to consume.

(I believe the last three issues have been created and fueled by the big food companies.)

Some of the more interesting (and scary) facts from the article:

  • On average, American men are 17 pounds heavier and American women 19 pounds heavier than they were 30 years ago.
  • In a decade span (late-1970’s to 1980’s) the percentage of overweight Americans increased from a quarter of the population to a third of the population. This gained weight totaled more than one billion pounds.
  • It is estimated that America’s extra weight adds $90 billion to our medical spending. (Please memorize and state this fact when someone says that junk food is much cheaper than real food.)

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