It’s a rapidly growing American trend that is spreading across the globe: An obesity epidemic that is spawning costly and devastating health, social, cultural and economic conditions that will worsen in 2019 and beyond.
Despite what is being promoted on the surface as a growing, promising healthy food movement, in America, and in many other countries, more people are becoming addicted to fast, processed food, laden with salt, sugar and unpronounceable chemicals with devastating results to health than those going all natural.
While organic movements have grown substantially over the last two decades, and the media keeps blasting how American’s food tastes have changed, organic in 2017 accounted for only 5.5 percent of the food sold in retail channels. Indeed, a walk through any major supermarket chain store shows how small the organic sections are and how limited the scope of product compared to the low quality, highly processed, non-organic aisles that dominate.
On the fast food front, an industry that had only $6 billion in revenue in 1970 and surged to over $200 billion in 2017, while major chains promise fresher ingredients with less additives and more vegetables, for the most part, Americans keep gobbling down burgers, fries and other fast food junk.
And it shows. Obesity is becoming an expected norm. From middle America to the military ranks, coping not only with the physical and health effects of obesity but its emotional, societal and psychological effects and their ramifications are forming the Ready To Explode trend which is exploding into a public health emergency.
For example, in 2016, the latest year for which official data is available, U.S. ranked 43rd among 195 nations with an average lifespan of 78.7 years. By 2040, Americans are forecast to only live 1.1 more years to 79.8, while dropping 21 spots in the global ranking to 64th, as other nations make faster gains, according to recently released data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The drop in the U.S. is the most for high-income countries.
Indeed, life expectancy in the U.S. is expected to be only slightly better than that of Bangladesh, a country with considerably lower income. Yet, Bangladesh will have made a significant stride of having 6.7 more years in average life span by 2040.
The top five health drivers that explain most of the future trajectory for premature mortality are high blood pressure, high body mass index, high blood sugar, tobacco use, and alcohol use.
Even in the military, where peak physicality was once the norm, overweight-driven poor health is pervasive. A recent study shows nearly 30 percent of military members are overweight. Fat and tired, and wrought with PTSD and other related psychological disorders, they are turning to energy drinks to get through their daily drills and military preparation.
So pervasive and growing is the obesity trend, that the U.S. government issued new guidelines for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including eating more whole, and fewer processed foods and, less obvious, incorporating exercise in spurts into daily routines.
The new guidelines paid particular attention to children. Nearly 30 percent of boys and girls under age 20 are either obese or overweight, up from 19 percent in 1980.
Overall, 180.5 million Americans—or 60.7 percent of the nation’s population ages 2 and over—are either obese or overweight. And among the 70 percent of adults who are overweight, 40 percent of them are obese, compared to just 3.4 percent of adults back in the 1960’s.
Yet, in America today, as well as in the U.K. and other nations facing obesity epidemics, there are growing Fat Pride movements proclaiming there are no social, economic or health issues associated with being overweight or obese.
This past April, Lizzi Cernik, a journalist and features writer for The Guardian who covers relationships, travel and women’s issues, wrote a column entitled, “It’s not fine to be fat. Celebrating obesity is irresponsible,” stated:
“No one should be bullied for their weight or food choices, but ‘fat pride’ promotes dangerous weight levels. … as we move away from the skinny goals of the mid-2000s and embrace different shapes and sizes, one group of campaigners has taken things a step too far. Fronted by plus-sized models and social media influencers, the fat acceptance movement aims to normalize obesity, letting everyone know that it’s fine to be fat. With terms such as ‘straight size’ and ‘fat pride’ proliferating, some influential figures are now even likening the valid concerns of health officials to hate crimes.
“The comedian Sofie Hagen recently accused Cancer Research of bullying fat people, after the charity launched a campaign to raise awareness about the link between cancer and obesity. Through a series of expletive-laden tweets, she criticized the organization for its damaging messages, claiming that fat didn’t equal unhealthy.”
However, contrary to Ms. Hagen’s belief, according to recent reports, not only does fat ‘equal unhealthy,’ it equals extremely costly.
On 26 October 2018, The Milken Institute released a new study, “America’s Obesity Crisis: The Health and Economic Costs of Excess,” authored by Hugh Waters and Marlon Graf, that found: In 2016, chronic diseases driven by the risk factor of obesity and overweight accounted for $480.7 billion in direct health care costs in the U.S., with an additional $1.24 trillion in indirect costs due to lost economic productivity.
The total cost of chronic diseases due to obesity and overweight was $1.72 trillion—equivalent to 9.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Obesity as a risk factor is by far the greatest contributor to the burden of chronic diseases in the U.S., accounting for 47.1 percent of the total cost of chronic diseases nationwide.
Indeed, America, accounting for just 5 percent of the world’s population is truly #1, weighing in with 13 percent of the total world overweight and obese people. TJ
The effects of America’s and other nations’ addiction to processed, low quality, junk food will continue to take its toll.
If, indeed, it is true that you are what you eat, is America’s low spirit, diminishing self esteem, lack of dignity, absence of energy and drive to elevate to higher emotional, spiritual, physical and political levels directly tied to the massive amounts of highly processed, chemically laced, artificially colored/flavored food they eat and drink?
Therefore, at this time, there is no trajectory to suggest a change in the Ready to Explode trend line until a new wave of self-consciousness and self-confidence captures the American spirit.
However, trends are born, they grow, mature, reach old age and die. While the Ready To Explode trend is rapidly expanding, there will be ups and downs in its growth trajectory … both personally and nationwide. Clearly, numerous opportunities exist for OnTrendpreneurs® to design/provide products and services to assist the overweight and obese who will not lose weight, and for those who want to lose weight.