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New CDC Stats on Obesity & Diabetes

by: Jill Richardson

Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 17:02:26 PM PDT


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Obesity was a big topic in the blogosphere this week. Marion Nestle, referencing the same CDC stats I'm looking at in this diary, said it best:

The CDC has just released preliminary results of the 2008 National Health Interview Survey.  These include, among other measures, data charts and tables on obesity (rates still rising steadily since 1997), physical activity (no measurable change), and diabetes (rising in parallel with obesity).

Interpretation: if physical activity rates have not changed, then the reason obesity rates are going up is because people are eating more calories.

Parke Wilde comments on the various theories on why we are seeing epidemic obesity. Tom Laskawy warns no health care reform without food system reform. And Kerry Trueman says:

If you think diabetes and obesity are the two biggest health care crises Americans face these days, you're missing the forest for the trees - literally. Because the roots of all this diet-induced disease lie in two less publicized but even more pernicious epidemics: nature deficit disorder and kitchen illiteracy.

Below, you'll find the CDC's numbers

Jill Richardson :: New CDC Stats on Obesity & Diabetes
The numbers in the table below are all percentages - what percent of people are obese, smoke, engage in physical activity during leisure time, and have been diagnosed with diabetes.

YearObesitySmokingPhysical ActivityDiabetes
199719.524.631.85.3
199820.62429.65.4
199921.523.330.15.5
200021.823.131.76.0
200122.922.631.86.4
200223.822.331.76.5
200323.521.532.86.5
200424.320.830.16.9
200525.320.830.17.3
200626.220.830.97.6
200726.619.730.87.5
200827.520.4327.8

There are major disparities between various ethnicities. Whites are doing the best, with only 26.4% obesity among men, 24.9% among women and just 6.9% diabetes (among both sexes). More whites smoke and get physical activity than the other ethnicities - 22.5% and 35.4% respectively.

Hispanics have 30.4% obesity among men, 33.1% among women, and 10.7% diabetes (among both sexes). 14.5% of Hispanics smoke, and 24.5% engage in physical activity.

Black men are less obese than Hispanics, but black women are more obese. Obesity rates for blacks are 28.4% among men and 41.8% among women. 10.9% of blacks are diagnosed with diabetes. 20.6% smoke and 24.6% engage in physical activity.

I don't have an easy way to compare these statistics by age because the CDC used different age ranges for each measure. However, in general, physical activity goes down as people get older and diabetes goes up.

Age: Physical Activity
18-24: 37.5%
25-64: 33.2%
65-74: 25.8%
75+: 18.5%

Age: Diabetes
18-44: 2.3%
45-54: 9.2%
55-64: 15.3%
65+: 18.3%

Smoking and obesity are a bit less straightforward and it might be because at a certain age, people who are smoke or people who are obese are dying. I don't know. Or it could be that at a certain point, a fear of death kicks in and people get more serious about quitting smoking. That's what happened for my Grandfather. He smoked from age 12 into his late 60's until his doctor told him "If you keep smoking you WILL die." Then he stopped.

Age: Obesity
20-39: 24.4%
40-59: 31.5%
60+: 26.6%

Age: Smoking
18-44: 22.8%
45-64: 22.5%
65+: 9.3%

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kitchen illiteracy (4.00 / 4)
Big, big problem. Many people are growing up without ever tasting real, home-cooked food--just over-salty and over-sweetened processed foods.

meanwhile (4.00 / 3)
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture tweeted this afternoon,

25% of US cheese used on pizza. 1 xtra oz of cheese ea pizza would use 2.5b lbs/yr. Help dairy farmers - add some cheese to your pizza.

Then a couple of hours ago he tweeted,

Some McDs McCafe beverages 80% milk. Could use additional 350m lbs milk. Drink up; we need more dairy demand. Or just drink more milk...

Yes, those are authentic, and yes, our agriculture policies will continue to undermine some of our public health goals. Surely we can help dairy farmers without encouraging the public to eat at McDonalds more often.


The focus on obesity is very frustrating... (0.00 / 0)
The Kerry Trueman quote above starts to get at the problem, but does not go nearly far enough. The public health issue is not at all that people are fat (reality check: many many fat folks are perfectly healthy, eat well, and exercise; some medical studies have shown that being too thin carries as much or more of a risk of death than being what our culture considers too fat). The problem, to oversimplify things hugely, is processed foods and environmental toxins.

But obesity is a target because it plays into our culture's obsession with thinness and hatred for fat.

I'd like to see the pro-food movement become more skeptical of the medical industry's claims about obesity. Weight loss is a multibillion-dollar business. We're already skeptical of Big Ag; it's time to widen our view and see that there's more to the story on obesity as well.  


Well, if you can be healthy obese (4.00 / 1)
doesn't the same hold true for thin people? I'm mean seriously, how can you, on one hand, say fat people can be healthy and then turn around and do the same thing to skinny people, that you are defending fat people against? (BTW, never in my life has anyone told me I could run a higher risk of death than a fat person . . . .)

I'd like to see the pro-food movement become more skeptical of the medical industry's claims about obesity. Weight loss is a multibillion-dollar business.

Huh? Look at the chart above for starters? Physical activity stays the same, smoking goes down, obesity rises as does diabetes. The medical industry (not pharma) does not prescribe commercial weight loss programs, ime, they recommend eating a healthy, portion controlled diet for weight loss with exercise. Adjusted for medical issues of course. They "prescribed" a nutritionist for my friend, who has since joined a CSA.


[ Parent ]
Not just more calories... (0.00 / 0)
Interpretation: if physical activity rates have not changed, then the reason obesity rates are going up is because people are eating more calories.

Well yes, but what kind of calories? As this article points out, the biggest changes in the U.S. diet have been:

--An increase in cereal grain consumption, particularly wheat.
--An increase in sweetener consumption.
--The replacement of meat and milk fat with industrial vegetable oils, with total fat intake remaining the same.

http://wholehealthsource.blogs...

So we started eating less saturated fat, and more whole grains, especially wheat. And as those trends occurred, the obesity and diabetes rates began their meteoric rise. I don't think that's a coincidence.

So it's not as simple as just increased calories...


this is all really confusing to me.. (4.00 / 1)
as I am eating healthier mostly vegan and trying to lose weight..

for weight loss...some experts say no carbs..because they turn into sugars..

other experts say losing weight is a matter of restricting calories..No matter what u eat..


[ Parent ]
You know what I would like to see (4.00 / 1)
Public Service commercials like the smoking ones, only featuring processed foods and the ingredients on their labels {grin} Hmmm . . . maybe I should send the suggestion to my Mayor . . . .  

[ Parent ]
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