Pandemic of Obesity – The Facts
We are currently living through a Pandemic. Yes, that is nothing new. The last 6 months have radically changed our lives, and we have had to start rethinking how we navigate our lives and lifestyles during times like these.
But today, I want to talk about another Pandemic – the Pandemic of Obesity. You see, since 1962 Obesity has been increasing each and every year. It has continued to push forward for more than 50 years, and not much has been done to slow down this medical disease. Yes, I called Obesity pure and simply a “Medical Disease” because that is what it is. This is a medical problem, and as a society we should start looking at it as such.
We should also stop stigmatizing Obesity. Stigmatizing the individuals that are suffering from this medical disease is unacceptable, and only discriminates against those that are overweight and obese. Studies already suggest that those who are obese have a much lower quality of healthcare than those not obese. This type of discrimination needs to stop, and it will only stop if we start to give the best healthcare (preventative and otherwise) to all individuals suffering from Obesity and Obesity related diseases (which we will be going over in great detail below).
People are not born Obese, and one day don’t just wake up and “decide” to be Obese. It is true – there is a combination of factors that come into play when you look at the high prevalence of Obesity – from the combined interaction between physical, social, and environmental factors. All of these factors play a huge role. I won’t be getting too much into that in this post, but more into how being Obese places you at such a greater risk of being hospitalized from COVID -19.
First, let’s define Obesity how the CDC does in the United States. Obesity refers to an individual with a BMI (Body Mass Index) greater than 30 (Calculate your BMI here). Although this is not the most accurate way to say whether or not a person is truly obese (this only factors in height and weight, and not body composition) it is one of the most reliable ways to track Obesity in our country.
Below is some of the latest data about the Obesity Pandemic from 2017-18 and shows the following percentage of Americans that are Obese, Overweight (BMI between 25 – 29.9) or normal weight (BMI of 18.5 – 24.9):
Normal weight: 25%
This data is truly staggering! Only ¼ of the US population is within a “normal” weight. The other 75% of us, or ¾ of the population is considered overweight or obese. Does anyone else besides me get a little sick to your stomach seeing this data?
Even worse, from from 1999–2000 through 2017–2018, the prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4%, and the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2% (Severe Obesity is a BMI of over 40).
You are probably wondering what percentage of the population is Obese based on their age. Here you go:
20-39 years old: 40% Obese
40-59 years old: 44.8% Obese
60+ years old: 43% Obese
More information on the most recent data of the current Obesity Pandemic can be found here. All of this data comes from the CDC, and the latest data is from 2017-18. I am only going to guess that these numbers have risen over the past 2-3 years.
We continue to see the numbers rise, but we are not doing enough as a society about it.
But now, we may be forced to. Coronavirus is taking its toll on the 42.4% of Obese Americans as we speak, and it is so sad to see what is happening right now. I have spent the last 15 years of my life trying to come up with the “cure” for Obesity. Reasonable exercise, reasonable nutrition (eating many colors of the rainbow), stress reduction techniques, etc. But this is clearly not enough.
We already know Obesity related illnesses include:
Heart Disease, Stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, and even certain types of cancer. But now, we can put Coronavirus on as an Obesity related illness.
Many studies are showing that people that developed critical COVID and died had a higher average BMI than people developing a more mild disease:
Now, if we could take one thing away from all of this data, it is this: Out of data taken from 3.9 MILLION people (From the COVID Symptom Tracker) which included height, weight, medical condition and daily health report, people who are obese are 20% more likely to be hospitalized with COVID symptoms. That is 1 out of every 5 people who are Obese in our country are ending up in the hospital (and are more likely to need respirator support/ventilation).
What all of this data is telling me is that we, as a society, need to start a movement to improve global immunity. Where do we start, though? Here are my recommendations for Obese individuals during this Pandemic:
Socially Distance and wear a mask (many of us are still not doing these 2 basic things)
Follow all Hygiene guidelines (handwashing for at least 20 seconds, keep hands out of your face, etc.)
Eat Nutrient Dense foods (think of eating the least you can get out of a box or a bag, and as much as you can get from the produce Isle, as well as fresh foods that need to be refrigerated).
Consider Vitamin D. Most people who are Obese have a Vitamin D Deficiency.
Regular Physical Exercise (Do something every day that is repeatable).
Consider your mental health. Positive mental attitude transfers over to every area of your life.
If we just start with those 6 things, TODAY, we can become a much healthier society. But, alas, here is the problem, you are going to say to me, “6 things! I can’t do all of these things all at once!”
I understand. So, what I recommend is the first 2 are non-negotiable. Then, from items 3-6 pick the ONE thing that you are 90% confident you could do for the next 7 days IN A ROW! The secret about habits sticking is they will ONLY stick if they become repetitive. As James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits” has said the 3 things that help habits stick are:
1) Repetition. Habits form based on frequency, not time.
2) Stable context. If the context is always changing, so is the behavior. You need a reliable environment.
3) Positive emotions. If it feels good, you’ll want to repeat it.
What ONE thing will you start doing TOMORROW to back your future a much, much better one?
Would you like some expert help on how to make each of these things a true, sustainable habit? We are here to help! Check out our 21 Day VIP experience below to get started to take control of your body and mind.
Yours in Health and Strength,
Ben S. Fogel