Three unrelated studies published last week should sound a common alarm and make us wonder: “What the heck is going on?”
The first study from the CDC compared cardiorespiratory fitness in 12-15 year old Americans from 1999 to 2012. Mary Elizabeth Dallas says the results are not good:
Using a specific measure, the researchers found that only about half of boys and one-third of girls between the ages of 12 and 15 had adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. The overall percentage of fit teens went from 52.4 percent in 1999 to 42.2 percent in 2012[…]
The second study, published in Lancet, analyzed the “weight of the world” — 188 nations, from 1980-2013, in the “most comprehensive assessment to date” — and found that 30% of the world’s population (2.1 billion people!) are overweight or obese. Although the wealthiest country — the United States — makes up 5% of the world’s population, it led the way with 13% of the world’s total obese population. Will Dunham says that the largest increases have been seen in developing countries in Middle East and North Africa, Central America, the Pacific islands, and the Caribbean:
During the 33 years studied, rates of being obese or overweight soared 28 percent in adults and 47 percent in children. During that span, the number of overweight and obese people rose from 857 million in 1980 to 2.1 billion in 2013.
That number exceeds the total world population of 1927, when it first hit 2 billion. Earth’s population now tops 7 billion.
The researchers said obesity – once a malady of rich nations – now grips people of all ages, incomes and regions, with not one country succeeding in cutting its obesity rate.
That’s my emphasis in the startling sentence above.
Notice that there are no Mediterranean countries listed in Dunham’s article. Robert Preidt reviews a study that may reveal why:
Children who eat a Mediterranean-style diet are less likely to be overweight or obese than other youngsters, a new study suggests.
Kids who closely followed a diet rich in fish, nuts, grains, vegetables and fruits — the so-called Mediterranean diet — were 15 percent less likely to be overweight or obese than those who did not follow that type of diet, the researchers found. This was true regardless of age, sex, wealth or country.
It’s not rocket science why humans become overweight and obese. Fundamentally, humans have created an imbalance between the calories that we take in (eat) and the calories we expend (burn). Obviously, this occurs on an individual level, yet so many of our species are on the same page! These three studies clearly show the path out of our human predicament: eat better (and less) and get moving!