Friday, February 03, 2012

Obesity Rates Unchanged Over The Last 12 Years

This past week in my micro class we read a chapter about obesity in the book The Economics of Public Issues. It is good news that the rate has not gone up. But it is still very high. The book mentions two reasons why the rate is up so much in the last 40-50 years. One is that the relative wage rate of sedentary jobs has gone up (so we burn fewer calories) and the total cost of food (monetary price + preparation time) has fallen in real terms (so we consume more calories). It is so much easier to make and get food than it once was. We have microwaves, vending machines everywhere and drive up lanes for fast food restaurants. Those trends are not going away, so the obesity rate will not change easily.

Here is a story about the obesity rate from the NY Times: Obesity Rates Stall, But No Decline by TARA PARKER-POPE. Here is an excerpt:

"After two decades of steady increases, obesity rates in adults and children in the United States have remained largely unchanged during the past 12 years, a finding that suggests national efforts at promoting healthful eating and exercise are having little effect on the overweight.

Over all, 35.7 percent of the adult population and 16.9 percent of children qualify as obese, according to data gathered by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published online Tuesday by The Journal of the American Medical Association. While it is good news that the ranks of the obese in America are not growing, the data also point to the intractable nature of weight gain and signal that the country will be dealing with the health consequences of obesity for years to come."

Here are some other posts on obesity:

A Few Extra Pounds Might Bring Extra Years

Should Overweight People Pay More For Health Insurance?

Are Your Friends Making You Fat?

Should We Pay People To Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle?

Smokers and the obese cheaper to care for, study shows

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