The latest statistics reveal an incredibly negative picture of Americans: 40% are obese and another 32% are overweight. In other words, almost three quarters of Americans maintain an unhealthy weight.
Yes, the fast-food industry is hugely to blame, as epitomized by all of those melted-cheese-dripping triple-bacon-burger commercials on college football Saturdays. Americans’ lifespan is declining for a myriad of reasons (alcohol, opioids, and COVID), but our epidemic of obesity surely is a contributing factor to our high rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. We are eating ourselves to death.
The average American male today weighs 30 pounds more than he did 50 years ago and the average American woman today weighs the same as that man of 50 years ago. Certainly, for some people genetics plays a huge role in their weight. But our society has become obese not because of changes in our genetic makeup compared to 50 years ago, but because we eat way too much of the wrong kinds of food which have become all too easy to access.
The number of fast-food franchises has grown exponentially in the past 50 years. In addition, we have come to equate excess food consumption as a luxurious pleasure, as though it is an end in itself. If you go on a cruise ship (as we recently did), the non-stop over-abundance of food available at buffets only serves to encourage gross overeating — and way-too-many passengers are happy to comply.
Overeating truly has become as American as apple pie (no pun intended). Bad food habits are just as bad for us as anything else (e.g. smoking, alcohol, drugs), but are less expensive and on every street corner. Moreover, these unhealthy foods are pushed on us all day, every day. TV ads for cigarettes were banned decades ago— we need to do the same for fast-food ads.
The new diabetes drugs, which have been shown to induce weight loss, hold huge promise for those who struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle. As these drugs are tested for side effects (and no doubt will be improved-upon in the future) and come to market, perhaps this generation of Americans can win the modern-day Battle of the Bulge.