Culture of Corpulence

By Kalb, Claudia | Newsweek, March 22, 2010 | Go to article overview

Culture of Corpulence


Kalb, Claudia, Newsweek


Byline: Claudia Kalb

American innovations in food, transportation, and technology are threatening to supersize us all.

Look around anywhere in America and the reality assaults you: we are simply too big. Nowhere is the evidence for this more striking than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's color-coded obesity map. Between 1990 and 2008 the country morphs from a sea of pleasant blue, representing an obese population of less than 19 percent, to an alarming patchwork of tan, orange, and maroon, where the stats range from 21 percent obese in Connecticut to 32.8apercent in Mississippi.

The epidemic is most alarming among American children: rates have tripled among kids ages 12 to 19 since 1980, with one third of America's youth now overweight or obese and almost 10 percent of infants and toddlers dangerously heavy. Obese kids, defined by a body-mass index at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex, are at risk for developing conditions in childhood once monopolized by adults: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. And many are stigmatized and suffer from low self-esteem, which can lead to depression. If current trends continue, nearly one in three kids born in 2000--and one in two minorities--will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime, according to the American Diabetes Association. The disease is linked to heart attack, stroke, blindness, amputation, and kidney disease. Indeed, a study published last month found that obese children are more than twice as likely to die prematurely as adults than kids on the lower end of the weight spectrum. In the U.S., new government data show an overall plateau of high BMIs in kids over the last 10 years--a hopeful sign. But "even without further increases in childhood obesity, the toll of the epidemic will mount for decades to come," says Harvard's Dr. David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children's Hospital Boston.

This goes way beyond fitting into our jeans or airline seats: the estimated annual cost of obesity in the United States is $147abillion. The problem even threatens our national security--being overweight is the No. 1 reason recruits are turned away from the military. Not so long ago, a lack of personal willpower was blamed. Today, obesity is considered a public-health threat, the toll of a toxic environment that endangers the well-being of our children and their future.

It's not just us, either. "Globesity" has consumed much of the planet, with more than 1 billion adults overweight or obese. And while we're not the fattest--Nauru, Micronesia, and a handful of other countries beat us--we're very close to the top of the list. Urbanization, modernization, technology, and the globalization of food markets, which includes the exportation of Coke and burgers, has created a crisis of "epidemic proportions," in the words of the World Health Organization.

But it's America that has become the world's preeminent fat-making machine. To dismantle it we need a coordinated, comprehensive plan of attack, one that pairs individual responsibility with a social construct that fosters good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. We need to be surrounded by food that makes us well, not sick. We need schools and workplaces that reward us for exercising our bodies, not just our brains. "If you want people to make the right choices, they need to have the right choices to make," says Dr. William Dietz, director of the CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. We need forceful and well-enforced policies, a government that invests dollars in improving the diet of school kids and puts limitations on the advertising that targets them. We need Americans to perceive obesity as a personal threat to themselves and to their children, not as somebody else's problem. We have a long way to go.

We got here through multiple innovations, many of them meant to improve, not corrupt, our lifestyles. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Culture of Corpulence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.