Obesity was a rare occurrence, a few years back. It is no more so. At one time people identified obesity as the cause for some underlying physical disorder or mental disability, so they sought to control excess weigh. But later obesity by and large came to be viewed and specified as being the symbol of good health or good personality. Remarks like "how healthy he looks!" "What a personality he has!" are not uncommon. Even in families where no one is obese, we find children who are either obese from childhood or become obese a few years later.
Some still equate obesity with perfect health. If one losses a few pounds of excess weight people lament often about how good his health was some days ago and how weak he looked after losing weight. Nevertheless today many people are well informed through various health column, articles and news items published in periodicals & papers about why obesity is not desirable and why one should control excess weight. People now realize that obesity causes a variety of disorders, some of which could prove life threatening, says lossweight.com.
Today about one-third of the global population aged 15 or older is overweight or obese, according to an American Demographics analysis. And not surprisingly, the U.S. is the world leader: the U.S. is home to nearly 23% of the world's obese population aged 15 or older, according to the analysis.
The global perception is that fat-and-happy U.S. consumers lead the way on these weighty matters. American Demographics aimed to prove, or disprove, the point by analyzing the World Health Organization's 2005 obesity projections and Census Bureau global population data.
As it turns out, the U.S. share of the merely overweight (about 7%) isn't that out of line with its share of world population (less than 5%).
The problem is an epidemic of obesity, with more Americans joining the ranks of the officially obese as determined by body mass index, which measures weight in relation to height. "Overweight" means a BMI of 25 up to 30; "obese" is 30 or above.
To be sure, BMI is not a perfect measure. For example, a 200-lb. body builder who stands at 5'10" has a BMI of 29, and would be considered borderline obese, despite having far more muscle than fat. However, those cases are the rare exceptions to the rule, and BMI, which dates to the 1800s, remains the standard for governments.
U.S. males aged 15 or older last year had a mean BMI of 28.4, according to WHO. Women's average was 28.8. For adults of average height in the U.S., a man is considered obese at 196 pounds; a woman at 174 pounds.
The nation is getting fatter. U.S. government surveys show the average U.S. adult man aged 20-74 weighs 191 pounds and the average woman weighs 164, both up about 24 pounds (or 96 Quarter Pounders) from the early 1960s. About three-fourths of Americans aged 15+ in the U.S. were overweight or obese in 2005, with about four in 10 obese, according to WHO.
The U.S. share of obesity, with 22.6% of the world's fattest residents age 15+, is far above the 5.3% share of runner-up Mexico, according to American Demographics' analysis.
The analysis found 1.6 billion overweight people age 15+ worldwide last year (34.5% of that population), including 400 million clinically obese, accoring to adage.com
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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