Yes, We’re Fat and Getting Fatter

Well it wouldn’t be the first day of the new year unless we had an article about how out-of-shape and unhealthy we are. You’d have to be living in a cave to not know that the first of January marks the beginning of the end of many a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get in shape.  But I’ll bet you didn’t know that Big Brother tracks how healthy we are (and aren’t) and sets goals for good health that most of us didn’t know existed!  I’ve condensed the original article a bit and have added a few comments of my own.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, however, you probably exercise routinely and eat well, so consider yourself above average and keep on working out!

Americans gasping to reach healthy living goals

Actually, most people don’t even know federal targets exist



Published: Friday, January 1, 2010 at 4:03 a.m.

ATLANTA — About 10 years ago the government set some lofty health goals for the nation to reach by 2010.

So how did we do? By many measures, not so hot.

There are more obese Americans than a decade ago, not fewer. We eat more salt and fat, not less. More of us have high blood pressure.

(So what does that say about Americans as a whole?  We’ve been bombarded by information in newspapers and magazines, television and the internet about the fact that we eat too much fat and salt.  We’ve been told ad infinitum about how those two substances will help lead you to an early grave.  Yet we’re fatter now and eat more of that stuff now?  What part of poisoning ourselves don’t we understand?)

As we move into a new decade, the government is analyzing how well the nation met the 2010 goals and drawing up a new set of goals for 2020 expected to be more numerous and — perhaps — less ambitious.

“We need to strike a balance of setting targets that are achievable and also ask the country to reach,” said Dr. Howard Koh, the federal health official who oversees the Healthy People project. “That’s a balance that’s sometimes a challenge to strike.”

(So the answer is to set the bar lower?  Yes, we’re fortunate to have (really expensive) miracle medical treatments and medicines to fix our bodies that we’ve managed to nearly destroy, but how about we focus on prevention rather than treatment after the fact?)

The Healthy People objectives were first created in the late 1970s to set an agenda for getting Americans to live longer, healthier lives. It was also an attempt to involve the public and emphasize that many health problems are preventable.

Every 10 years, the Department of Health and Human Services reassesses the goals, and reports on progress made in the previous decade.

Many call the effort a success. The report has been imitated by states and other nations. Because of its importance within public health circles, interest groups jockey to add their goals to the document, which is expanding to more than 1,000 targets. Health agency workers memorize the goals.

“It is something that we think about all the time,” said Dr. Lance Rodewald, a vaccination expert at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But after three decades, the goals aren’t well known to the public and only a modest number have been met.

About 41 percent of the 1990 measurable goals were achieved. For the 2000 goals, it was just 24 percent.

As for the 2010 goals, data is still being collected, and a final report is not due out until 2011. But it looks like the results will be in the neighborhood of 20 percent, according to a preliminary analysis by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The CDC analysis done this fall found that just 18 percent of those goals have been met so far. Worse, the nation actually retreated from about 23 percent of the goals.

(And I’m not convinced that those numbers would be better even if the public had known about those goals.)

One example: Healthy People 2010 called for the percentage of adults who are obese to drop to 15 percent. That goal was set at a time when nearly a quarter of all adults were obese. Now, about 34 percent of adults are obese.

Also, an estimated 28 percent of adults had high blood pressure in 2000. The goal was to reduce that to 16 percent. But the most recent government data say the proportion has risen to 29 percent.

(So 34% of adults are obese.  I suppose the good news is that 66% aren’t.  But really, a third of the adult populace is obese?  Good God people, come on!  You’re committing suicide on the installment plan!  Look, regardless of what some exercise sites are pushing, you don’t have to press an 88 lb. kettlebell to be fit, nor do you have to to 80 sets of snatches and rip the skin off your palms to be fit.  You simply have to move more and eat less.  That’s it.

FIRST–Invest a few dollars and get a complete physical at your Doctor. Find out what your baseline is.  See if you need to watch specific things in your diet.  It’s your body, you need to take care of it.

SECOND–Stop eating gobs of crap and get off your ass and move!  Yes, you may have to sweat a little.  No, you don’t have to go to the gym 5 days a week.  If you’re interested in kettlebells, get some instruction on how to deadlift, squat, swing and press one.  Then practice those moves 3 times a week for about a half hour each workout.  On your off days go for a brisk walk.  Not a stroll–a brisk walk.  You don’t have to run.  How many times have I seen people painfully plodding along, pounding their joints into dust, when they could be walking faster and more comfortably?  But I digress. It’s about good health–longevity and prevention.  Make those your goals.

Stepping off my soapbox now.)

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