Americans love to chant, “We’re No. 1!” But sometimes that’s not a good thing — like being the fattest nation in the world. Yep, that’s us. USA! USA!
According to a recent survey from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the U.S. obesity rate has reached a frightening 38.2% of the population older than 15.
Our closest competitor in national chubbiness is Mexico, which owns a 32.4% obesity rate. Can it overtake us? Not if our fast-food loving president has anything to say about it.
President Donald Trump responded to the national crisis by putting the brakes on Michelle Obama’s program to fight childhood obesity. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue has said we will be slowing her initiative aimed at improving school lunch nutrition.
But Trump isn’t the only politician who scoffs at such efforts. When running for president, Sen. Ted Cruz promised that “if [his wife] Heidi is first lady, French fries are coming back into the classroom.” The former first lady’s food program also angered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (insert joke here). “It’s none of her business!” he thundered.
Do they care that childhood obesity has more than tripled in America since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?
Meanwhile, fewer obese adult Americans are trying to lose weight. “Socially accepted normal body weight is shifting toward heavier weight,” Jian Zhang, a public health researcher at Georgia Southern University, told The Associated Press. “As more people around us are getting heavier, we simply believe we are fine, and no need to do anything with it.”
Except for the heart disease, diabetes and other life-shortening illnesses obesity causes. But hey, that’s what denial is for.
At least NYC does a bit better, with a 22% obesity rate. The fact that New Yorkers walk everywhere and climb subway steps daily plays no small role. Still, 22% is too high. In Japan, for example, only 3.7% of the population is obese.
It’s time to face reality. If you’re still not convinced being overweight shortens life, check out the seniors you see strolling around the city. Almost all of them are trim. Gee, where did all the obese ones go?
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.