United States: Second Most Obese Country in the World!

I had the wonderful opportunity last week to talk with the business leaders at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. I really wanted to look at a bigger picture of obesity… No pun intended. I know I talk so much about individual issues which are where it starts. It starts with ME. But my obesity impact was being felt far beyond what I was doing to my own body…. OK and that of my children….

As I started to search, I was overwhelmed with information! Not surprising really….. But I wanted to share some of the information I found.

Military

I found that our retired military leaders are very concerned about the obesity rate because the leading medical reason applicants fail to qualify for military service is their weight! They are either overweight or obese. And these Generals went on to say they are concerned this generation is too overweight to serve and it is a concern of national security! No other country’s military is facing these issues. These Generals are pushing Congress to give the Secretary of the USDA the power to implement healthier standards in our schools.

“The folks that are going to enter the military in 2025 are in school right now,” Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Norman Seip told Reuters. “So it’s up to us to ensure that when those children reach the age of between 17 and 24 that they are ready or eligible to join the military.” (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57520233-10391704/retired-military-leaders-say-this-generation-is-too-fat-to-fight/   http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/25/health/military-obesity/index.html)

Fuel Consumption

I never thought about my weight costing me more in gas. Did you? Well, if you think about when gas prices go up, they always say take out any extra weight from your car to save fuel. But I never related that to my “extra” weight! But there are numbers that show we are each paying a little more to move our overweight selves from place to place. The number was small individually but think if you have a business with either sales folks driving cars or trucks and are overweight, it could really add to the “bottom line” in fuel costs.

Nationally, it adds up too. “Since 1960, McLay and Jacobson said, the consumption of no less than 938 million gallons of gasoline annually can be attributed to weight gains of drivers and passengers. Of that total no less than 272 million gallons are consumed annually as a result of weight gains since 1988.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061025183256.htm

“Customer of Size” Policies

I’m flying quite a bit lately and have no problem fitting into the 17” seat but before The Biggest Loser, it was a problem. Actually getting across country to Los Angeles for the show was a “tight squeeze” and not comfortable. But I was not really aware of the “Customer of Size” policy and BL did not purchase any of us more than one seat. (They wanted us to be uncomfortable to help us get the need for change.)

Here is part of what one airline has on their website: “Customers who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s) should proactively book the needed number of seats prior to travel. The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats and measures 17 inches in width.”

AS A SIDE NOTE: I see and hear more rude, nasty looks and comments on planes about people who are overweight than anywhere else I believe. “I’m glad you’re not fat – I was hoping a fat person wouldn’t sit by me.” I get it. I’ve been on both sides of that aisle but rude is still rude and looks count too. I could but won’t continue… Hey maybe let’s get airlines to offer healthier snacks both free and for purchase – might help a little. (I’ll let you check your favorite airline for their policy.)

Then I found that NYC is working to have a 400# weight limit on the subways and NJ is working on the costs to widen seats.

Medical

The information on the medical costs is overwhelming in itself. I wasn’t really surprised about this, are you since obesity is a contributing factor to almost every disease and condition? The medical costs are astronomical! We need bigger wheelchairs, stronger toilets and lifts, and wider doors. “The additional medical spending due to obesity is double previous estimates and exceeds even those of smoking, a new study shows.”

“Yes, a heart attack will generate economic activity, since the surgeon and hospital get paid, but not in a good way,” said Murray Ross, vice president of Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Policy. “If we avoided that heart attack we could have put the money to better use, such as in education or investments in clean energy.” (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/30/us-obesity-idUSBRE83T0C820120430)

FINALLY 

The last link I have for you is the best! It’s a great graphic to bring the impact together: http://www.forbes.com/sites/bethhoffman/2012/08/16/what-the-obesity-epidemic-costs-us-infographic/

 

There is so much more but I think you are like me; you are getting a bigger picture if you didn’t already have it. My weight impacts not just my life and budget but that of others like my family and my employer as well as the entire country. I have to own it. When Ashley came to me in the beginning and wanted me to try out for The Biggest Loser, I said, I AM NOT BIG ENOUGH! I was obviously the only one who didn’t see it!

I was and still am a little stunned at the obesity epidemic’s impact but not to be discouraged.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

I see I CAN make changes that help me be and stay healthy. And in turn I CAN help and encourage others to do the same!

YOU CAN too!

TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

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