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Obesity in America: 'Stop Body Shaming Me, I Look Fine'

04-13-2017

Two out of 3 adults in the U.S. are overweight.  One out of 3 is obese.  A person is obese if their BMI is 29 or greater.  BMI stands for Body Mass Index and measures height compared to weight, factoring-in gender. 

This is the fattest our nation has ever been and there doesn't appear to be any end in sight to the massive and rapid weight gain we as a nation are experiencing.  

Excess body fat is extremely unhealthy.  Being overweight is linked to dozens of diseases and conditions.  Topping the list: Heart Disease (America's number one killer), Cancer and Diabetes.

In conjunction with growing waistlines, fewer Americans seem to be bothered by their overweight condition. Research shows fewer people are trying to lose weight. In fact, many people don't even realize they are overweight. 

According to a paper published in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers analyzed these figures:

Percentage of Obese Americans
1997: 19%
2015: 30%

Percentage of People Trying to Lose Weight:
1994: 55%
2014: 49%

A New Normal
Dr. Jian Zhang, an associate professor at Georgia Southern University's College of Public Health and lead author of the new paper told CNN (LINK) the change is due to a perception of what is a normal weight.  

"We are stuck in a vicious cycle. More people are getting obese; more are fine with their weight. When they are looking around, they find more persons with even larger bodies, and more are getting less motivated to lose weight, and in turn, we are getting even heavier," he said.

Zhang said in today's society, too many teenagers describe their weight as "just fine," when in reality they are overweight.  However, back in the 1980s and 1990s had a more accurate assesment of their weight. 

Dr. Randy Rockney, a pediatrician at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, agreed. 

"Looking at society in general, overweight and obese people are less likely to perceive themselves as aberrant," he said. 

So while 'body shaming' and weight discrimination have diminished, and the stigma associated with being overweight is waning, researchers hypothesize those trends lead to greater acceptance of unhealthy weight. 

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