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Fat and happy? You must be an American

May 08, 2012|By Paul Whitefield
  • The ranks of obese Americans are expected to swell even further in the coming years, rising from 36% of the adult population today to 42% by 2030, experts said Monday.
The ranks of obese Americans are expected to swell even further in the coming… (Cate Gillon / Getty Images )

You saw the headline: “42% of American adults will be obese by 2030, study says.”

But hey, why be a glass-half-full nation? 

Why not a headline that says “58% of American adults won’t be obese by 2030, study says”?

If we can’t be realistic, why not be optimistic? If we’re going to be fat, can’t we also be happy?

That way, when you read this -- “a new report estimated that the cost of treating those additional obese people for diabetes, heart disease and other medical conditions would add up to nearly $550 billion over the next two decades” -- you won’t despair.

Instead, you’ll channel your inner Warren Buffett -- and buy stock in health insurance companies and hospitals and medical supply firms.

Also, you need to consume your news the way you do those chili cheese fries:  Don’t stop at just the  headline. For example, down a few paragraphs in The Times’ story is this hopeful nugget:

The sobering projections also contained some good news, the researchers said: Obesity's growth has slowed from the record pace of most of the last 30 years. If those trends were to continue, 51% of American adults would qualify as obese in 2030.

Which is barely a majority, and which also means that there will still be plenty of healthy Americans who can work and pay taxes to fund the healthcare needs of the obese. 

Of course, if the healthy 49% are Republicans -- well, that 51% may want a backup plan.  Even the intelligent design folks believe in Darwinism at some point.

The most fascinating part of the story, though, was this:

Study leader Eric Finkelstein, a health economist at Duke University in Durham, N.C., said it was unclear whether growth had slowed thanks to public policy initiatives aimed at preventing childhood obesity, greater societal awareness of obesity's health risks, or because Americans have hit the maximum level of fatness a population can sustain.

There’s actually a “maximum level of fatness a population can sustain”?

And how exactly is that determined?  Beyond that level and everyone sinks into the earth?  You can’t walk? You can’t get out of bed?  Is that what really killed the dinosaurs?

But if there is such a level, all I can say is at least America is still No. 1 in something.

“USA! USA! USA!” Three hearty cheers for American exceptionalism.

Whew. that's enough exercise for now. Pie a la mode for everyone!


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