OBESITY VS NATIONAL DEBT

There was a very interesting article in our Sunday paper this past week highlighting the alarming rate of obesity in our country.  We are a FAT and Chubby country with associated “numbers” trending upward at an alarming rate.   Well there is another worrisome trend constantly mentioned in the news and that’s the national debt.  These two seemingly unrelated but problematic realities of life may not have any connection at all, but then again—let’s take another look.  Are there timelines for both that might indicate some correlation?  Is it remotely possible that from a cultural standpoint both might lend themselves to cause-effect relationships?  What, if any, common thread or threads run true to both downward-spiraling situations?  Let us look at obesity first.

OBESITY

I would like to detail several “bullets” that will alarm even the most placid reader into wondering how we got where we are today.  My information comes from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.

  • 60 million people in the United States are “officially” obese.
  • A staggering 33% of all adult Americans have a Body Mass Index (BMI ) measuring 30 or greater
  • Obesity has increased 60% in the last 20 years
  • Obesity-related health issues account for 300,000 deaths per year—second only to tobacco usage

We have become a fast-food nation consuming enormous amounts of carbohydrates, sugar, processed food additives, saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, sodium and other highly detrimental ingredients I probably can’t pronounce anyway.  An adult should consume no more that 65 grams of fat per day and should eat no more than 2,000 calories per day.  That caloric intake will ensure weight maintenance and, depending upon what foods you eat, will give you all of the nutrients required to maintain good and lasting health.  The following table indicates body mass index ( BMI) and can serve as a guideline for any adult.  Please take a look:

     BMI below 18.5           Underweight

     BME 18.5 to 24.9        Average

    BMI 25.0 to 29.9        Overweight                       

   BMI  30 +                       Obese

The calculation is based upon the following formula:  [Weight (pounds)/(Height)²] x 703.  Of course there are tables in various web sites that will calculate the BMI for you.   

Let’s now look at the BMI trend for our country over the years:

As you can see, from 1960 to 1980 we were trending upward ever so slightly but then came the late ’80.  Something happened and we went wild and from the early ’90s to 2004, we truly lost our way relative to diet and the foods we consume.  We threw caution to the winds between 2004 and 2009.  That brought us to our present condition.  Again, approximately 33% of our 307,946,578 population has a BMI greater than 30.  Not only a national tragedy but a national disgrace. 

NATIONAL DEBT

So much for the good news.  Now let’s look at our national debt.  (NOTE: Please don’t confuse our national debt with our deficit.  If you really want to become depressed, look at our national deficit.  Again, here are several “bullets”:

  • As of 3:37 GMT, 4 March 2010, we have a public debt ( national debt ) of $12.526 trillion
  • With a total population of 307,946,578, the per capita debt is $40,676.85
  • Our debt grows $3.96 billion dollars for each day we breathe air
  • We have a record deficit ( there’s that word again ) of $1.4 trillion.

Again, let’s represent those horrible numbers visually.  Take a look.

Notice any correlation between obesity and the national debt?  Now let’s look at another graph.

During the war years ( WW II ) you might expect a burdensome national debt.  We had to pay for horrible years between 1942 and 1945.  Going to war costs money BUT, we dug our way out and got things in control until LBJ took office as the president in the late sixties.  The “War on Poverty” might have been a wonderful thing to contemplate, but it was remarkably costly in terms of entitlement programs that would ultimately cost us the “farm”.  Nixon and Carter kept thing in check but then comes the Bush presidency.  Reagan and Bush did not help much but I suppose by the time they came into power the die was cast.  We lost control of government spending—just as we lost control of any and all self-discipline relative to our waistlines.  Our consumption of food AND national spending jumped considerably.  We could not deny ourselves.  We see it—we buy it—we eat it.

Think about it, an individual or a country, without discipline, is doomed to excesses. Weight, money, etc etc—it does not matter.  This is what has happened to our country.  We sit in front of TV an average of 4 hours per day, eating our Cheetos, drinking our “BUD” and wonder why we are so fat.  Never moving, never reaching for our gym bag, never walking more that the distance from the lounge chair to the refrigerator.  In concert, our government spends OUR money like a drunken sailor on shore leave and we wonder why we are so broke.   Well-meaning administrations made decisions designed to help us, but in the long run have truly hurt.  Both occurrences seemed to start trending upwards around the latter ‘80s.  Like a rocket in flight, we are headed to the stars.  The only problem is—we will come down again.  I suspect it will be a very very hard landing.

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