Monday, October 5, 2009


I went into a new sandwich, salad and soup shop for lunch today. It was a pretty small place, maybe 15 tables and most of them were full. This was my first time visiting this particular establishment so I was unsure of what to expect. In front of me snaked a line of 5 or 6 people and a full place - I was encouraged. After deciding on mixed greens topped with couscous and chickpeas, I started to look around at what other people were eating. Most of them were having sandwichs - the bread looked really good.

And, then I looked at the people. Every single patron was overweight. Literally, every single one of the 30 or 40 people in there could have lost at least 20 pounds. At least half of them would be considered obese. What is happening?

We know the statistics from the CDC say that more than one-third of the adults in the U.S. are obese. We know that nearly two-thirds are considered overweight. I'm baffled why the trends are not getting better - and they are not. Virtually no improvement in obesity rates in the last few years. The good news is that it is not really getting worse, but the long term impact on the all of us is frightening.

Obesity is expensive (from the CDC):
  • In 2000, obesity-related health care costs totaled an estimated $117 billion.
  • Between 1987 and 2001, diseases associated with obesity account for 27% of the increases in medical costs.
  • Medical expenditures for obese workers, depending on severity of obesity and sex, are between 29%–117% greater than expenditures for workers with normal weight.
  • From 1979–1981 to 1997–1999, annual hospital costs related to obesity among children and adolescents increased, rising from $35 million to $127 million.

Perhaps the first step in solving this problem is awareness. Look at the people around you. Not in judgement or disdain. Simply be aware. How many of your family members need to lose some weight? How about friends and co-workers?

We can all make changes. Small steps, each day. Give up soda tomorrow. Have a piece of fruit instead of a sugary snack for dessert. Take a walk around the block this evening after dinner. If you are in shape and at a healthy weight, keep up the good work to set an example for others. Invite a friend along. We can make improvements and even have some fun at it if we work on it together. Take a walk with me... won't you?

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