Globesity

Michael Tchong Trends

An obesity epidemic is threatening to tip scales all over the globe, propelling a trend dubbed “globesity.” The U.S., in particular, continues to ignore the obvious health risks of maintaining a poor diet and lack of exercise, which is reflected in the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released today. Four in 10 Americans, or 39.8% (PDF), are now obese, up significantly from 13% in 1960.

The globesity scourge is rippling through all industry and government sectors. A Las Vegas ambulance company had to adopt larger vehicles, equipped with heavy-duty equipment, to handle the growing girth of obese patients. That may be welcome news to overweight Sin City residents, but patients who exceed air ambulance limits are not so lucky. They’re increasingly denied emergency transportation due to an inability of helicopters being able to lift off.

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“27% of army recruits are unable to enlist because they are overweight.”
Even more startling is the report that 27% of army recruits are unable to enlist because they are overweight. Those are overweight, young adults.

In the U.S., 46% of U.S. adults overall were considered overweight or obese in 1960. By 2013, that figure had increased exponentially to 71%.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the average weight for men rose “dramatically” — from 166 pounds (75 kg) in 1960 to 196 pounds (89 kg) in 2014. Women also gained weight, going from an average of 140 pounds (64 kg) in 1960 to 169 pounds (77 kg) in 2014.

Nearly half, 46% of U.S. adults, are considered obese or very obese today, compared with just 14% in 1960. Overweight is commonly defined as a body mass index of 25.0–29.9, while obesity is a BMI higher than or equal to 30.0, and extreme obesity is a 40.0 or greater BMI.

Body mass index is expressed as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared (kg/m²). Worldwide, the proportion of adults with a BMI of 25.0 or greater increased between 1980 and 2013 from 29% to 37% in men, and from 30% to 38% in women.

Globesity began its unflattering gain in the early 1970s. Although Americans are as active today as they were in 1970, they consumed 2,169 calories per day that year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By 2008 daily intake was 2,674 calories, a 23% increase. Those 505 extra calories each day can quickly add 50 pounds in a year.

Children are not immune from the adverse effects of overeating. A study lead by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) shows that in 2013, 24% of boys and 23% of girls worldwide were suffering from varying degrees of obesity.

The U.S. outweighs the world when it comes to obesity. Some 160 million, or 13% of the world’s obese total, are found in the birthplace of fast food, the United States. This despite the fact that the U.S. only accounts for 5% of the earth’s total population.

Persons under age 20 make up 30% of that number, according to Marie Ng, Assistant Professor of Global Health at IHME. This troubling finding is responsible for the growing number of people susceptible to different kinds of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Even belly fat can be fatal if left unchecked. Dr. Paul Poirier of the Laval University Institute of Cardiology says males with excess stomach fat are less likely to outlive those that do not have belly fat.

Unless drastic measures are taken or innovative solutions are developed, globesity will continue to add many pounds, or kilos, to the world’s midriff. Every nation is seeing an upsurge in overweight people due to the global popularity of the western diet. Without a proper application of menu and activity, humanity is in danger of falling off the scales.

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Michael Tchong
Michael Tchong
Michael Tchong is a professional people watcher and founder of four ahead-of-the-wave startups. He’s also a top-rated innovation and trends speaker, and an adjunct professor of innovation and social media at the University of San Francisco and UC Berkeley.