Harvard University researchers say the explosion of adult-aged American waistlines won’t slow down until 42% are obese.
They reached their conclusion after using 40 years of heart data to build a mathematical model that predicts a grim health scenario in the future.
The research was published this week in the freely available, peer reviewed journal PLoS Computational Biology. The findings of the research are in opposition to other recent research which says that the obesity rate may have peaked since it has held steady at 34% for five years.
An additional 34% of American adults are overweight, but not obese, so either way carrying extra poundage is the epidemic of the day.
The scary thing is that the Harvard researchers say that their model shows that the acceleration of the obesity problem is spread through social networks. Here is a nice quote from the Science Daily article:
"Our analysis suggests that while people have gotten better at gaining weight since 1971, they haven't gotten any better at losing weight," says lead author Alison L. Hill, a graduate student in Harvard's Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Biophysics Program, and at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. "Specifically, the rate of weight gain due to social transmission has grown quite rapidly."
Somehow, scientists believe people are able to pass on these social behaviors to their friends. The Harvard scientists are saying that people are able to transfer obesity through social contact.
That’s crazy, but if it’s true it’s pretty scary don’t you think?
Americans should be really ashamed because the estimates of the epidemic are lowball figures. Yes, 42% adult obesity is a best case scenario; we could possibly become much fatter before there is a plateau.
The data the scientists used begins around 1971. Only 14% of adults of adults were obese then.
Oh don’t worry; the good news is that the American population might not reach a level of 42% adult fatness for 40 years. Yes the future increase of obese people might happen much more gradual that the recent buffet bonanza we’ve experienced in the last decade (of deliciousness!).
We now know based on the research that the spread of obesity is broken down into three components.
Scientists say there is a social component where it can spread from person to person because of social networks; there is also a non-social component where it spreads because of easy access to junk food and lack of exercise. The third component is the rate that people recover from obesity, meaning they lose weight and decrease some of their mass.
People are eating too much food and most of this food resembles chemical waste. The majority of people eating this food get no exercise because they probably feel like crap after eating. These shameless individuals are the main component to the wave of obesity.
The social transmission of this “disease” is what has me worried. You see according to these scientists the spread of obesity through social networks is on the rise. Somehow it is spreading because of social contact.
And each obese person you know theoretically increases your chance of becoming obese. According to the math model having five obese people in your social circle can double your risk of becoming obese!
It’s ridiculous! The rate of obesity has skyrocketed since 1971, but the rate of people who get motivated to lose enough weight to be considered “just” overweight has remained the same since 1971.
The conclusion to be drawn from this study is that social acceptance of obesity just helps the problem spread. Not only are people getting the full value of their trips to Old County Buffet, their sloth-like tendencies are spreading like a social virus.
Why? I think it could be because our acceptance of people in this rare occasion is a bad thing.
People shouldn’t be fat. They get that way, but they sure didn’t evolve their intelligence just to drown their brains in trans-fat and hydrogenated oils!
Our overprotective, oversensitive country has turned into one giant eatery. We enable people by tossing more Cheetos at the obesity problem because that is a more palatable solution to most parents.
What people should be doing is smacking the nachos and Pop-Tarts out of people’s hands and then tell them to go pump some iron or eat a salad.
But pointing out that something is jacked up, well that would be mean. And we can't have any bad feelings being felt.
Yep enabling future generations of mass obesity is the new American way.
Of course this is all just a mathematical model, it is only a prediction based on 40 years of heart data. It could be that the problem doesn’t get worse. Based on what we know, I’d say it’s likely that the problem will get much worse.
Do you think people will honestly be able to stop eating so much junk and start exercising more? I don’t.
We’re all going to end up like the fat people in the movie WALL-E.