Obesity rates are above 15 percent in all but one of the 189 communities surveyed by Gallup and Healthways, despite the goal set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 program.
In fact, according to their survey, the U.S. obesity rate as a whole rose to 27.1 percent, which is the highest rate recorded nationwide since Gallup and Healthways began tracking in 2008.
We’ve figured out what causes obesity. Larger portion sizes at restaurants, lack of exercise and poorly balanced diets are the reasons our collective waistbands are growing. That’s it, end of story. However, according to a recent article in the New York Times, it may not be that simple.
New research is suggesting biological factors may be just as important as behavioral ones when determining obesity’s cause. One new study states the makeup of bacteria in an individual’s digestive system could play a role in whether or not they become obese. These bacteria are responsible for regulating how much fat is stored in your body, and vary from person to person.
Children born today enter a world where more than one-third of all adults in the United States are obese. They also face the prospect of being part of the one-fifth of American children who are obese. These risks of obesity significantly increase mortality rates. According to a new study by researchers from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at Columbia University, obesity is responsible for 18 percent of deaths in the U.S. Unfortunately, it’s possible that number will continue to grow if obesity rates follow the trend they’re on now. They have more than doubled since 1980.
The study found that the problem isn’t exclusive to older individuals, but rather people from younger generations who, as they age, have a greater chance of developing obesity-related health problems. “Obesity is unhealthy at any age, but as obese individuals grow older, they are more likely to experience serious health complications of obesity, including premature death,” said Ryan Masters, Ph.D, study author and researcher at Columbia in an interview with HealthlineNews. Masters fears that while the results of the study are worrying, they could actually be worse than they appear. He feels as obese individuals age and encounter health problems; they are less likely to participate in studies like the one conducted at Columbia. This can make the results skew healthier, an error he tried to correct in the results to allow for the discrepancy.
The “cult of celebrity,” social media, and antiquated machismo ideals have men across the pond embarrassed to admit they are dieting. In a study conducted by the UK’s Canadean Custom Solutions (CCS), researchers found that one third of British males were on a diet—nearly 10 million. Out of that large swath, CCS found only 21 percent of the dieting men felt confident buying weight loss products at grocery and health stores. The feeling of shame was bloody-well present in the 18-24 demographic, where 67 percent of young men felt emasculated while dieting.
Young Brits have good reason to diet—17 percent of them are obese. But the manner in which weight loss products are being branded doesn’t speak to young men. Michael Hughes, Research Manager at CCS, said, “The dieting market is predominantly associated with females because of the way in which products are positioned and the celebrities used to endorse products, brands and dieting regimes.” He claims that if pro athletes were used to market diet products, males would be more likely to purchase them, as that strategy has worked to encourage guys in the UK to get regular health screenings.