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Overweight is the new normal

Overweight is the new normal and society is accommodating our ever expanding girth. Robert Nolin wrote a terrific piece in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times highlighting this sentiment. (I’m quoted discussing portions.)

Here are some startling stats:

Overweight:

  • Two thirds of Americans are overweight.
  • The average American is 23 pounds heavier than “ideal” body weight.
  • 72 Million Americans are obese.
  • 9 million children over age 6 are obese

Food portions:

  • Food portions continue to increase.
  • Fast-food portions are two to five times larger than they were in the 1950s.
  • We are gulping more soda—Today, Americans drink around 44 gallons soda per year, up from 27 gallons in the 1970s.

What else is expanding? Here are some examples of products that are expanding to accommodate our expanding girth:

  • Clothing companies have expanded plus size inventories.
  • More plus-sized fashions are available for our expanding kids.
  • Some scales can now hold up to 500 pounds.
  • Revolving doors have widened from 10 to 12 feet.
  • Many movie theaters have seats as large as 26 inches wide, up from 20 inches wide in the 1980s.
  • Toilets can handle bigger bottoms.
  • And, sadly, coffins can now hold up to 700 pounds.

What can we do to reverse this trend?

As I’ve been saying, we need to eat less AND move more. As the USDA’s new icon food—myPlate–stresses: let’s make half of our plate fruits and veggies. They are rich in nutrients and relatively low in calories. We want to enjoy our food but avoid oversized portions, and limit sugary beverages. And, of course, as far as our plates go, we should eat off of smaller ones.

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