The latest nationwide adult obesity statistics were just released, and it’s not a pretty sight. At first glance, my fellow residents of Colorado and I were glad to see our state once again recognized as having the lowest percentage of obese people of all the 50 states. But on closer scrutiny, it’s alarming news for everyone. In these new statistics, Colorado is the only state with an obese percentage below 20%, and twelve states weighed in at 30% or higher. (Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or above.) Just fifteen years ago, no state had a percentage of 20% or higher! Childhood obesity continues to increase as well.
My first reaction is to be surprised that people who are obese can stand to stay that way. Last winter, I was newly retired, with a much lower activity level. I got into making batch after batch of holiday cookies, because I’d never had enough time to do that when I was working. In a short time, I was gaining weight. By the time I reached eight pounds above my target weight, I was definitely feeling it, noticing the greater effort to go up a flight of stairs, feeling bloated and sluggish, and didn’t want to continue gaining. I established some better habits, and am now back to target weight. How much worse must it feel to be 50, 75, 100 or more pounds overweight!
I understand how people get caught, though, because food manufacturers deliberately add addictive substances to food. The million-dollar advertising budgets of junk-food producers exacerbate the problem. The obese person may be surrounded by friends and family who also eat junk food. The medical profession, for the most part, doesn’t know or doesn’t tell patients that obesity can be eliminated by a low-fat plant-based diet; bariatric surgery is so much more profitable. It is sad to see so many suffer the inevitable consequences of obesity, and to see their families’ peace destroyed by having to worry about loved ones and medical bills.
In my book The Practical Peacemaker, the chapter on careless eating comments on how diets high in animal products lead to obesity. Fortunately, however, it seems like the health-producing message of a plant-based diet is getting out more clearly these days, thanks to Oprah’s Vegan Challenge last spring, several new books by prominent authors, and the film Forks Over Knives, among other influences. I especially wish everyone struggling with the diseases of affluence could see Forks Over Knives, which is available to order on DVD. The more we can all do to get this message out, the better.