On Thursday, a new study from The Lancet dropped some surprising (but really not that surprising) news about obesity. According to the report, more than a third of the world's population (approximately 2.1 billion people), are obese. Even less surprising, about 13 percent of that chub is located right here in the good old US-of-A.
Even more alarming than the statistics for adults are the findings for America's children. Healthdata.org reports that, "nearly 30% of boys and girls under age 20 are either obese or overweight, up from 19% in 1980." In other words, you can go ahead and starting blaming Michelle Obama for her abject failure to keep our kids fit. That is what we hired her for, right?
Before you start to cry foul, you should know the results of this study are actually pretty legit. The team looked at the height and weight data of over 188 different countries and employed techniques that mean literally nothing to me (things like "mixed effects linear regression" and "spatiotemporal Gaussian process regression models"), but sound super official, which means they're probably crazy accurate.
The findings were based on the Body Mass Index, a formula that uses your height, weight and sex to determine the amount of body fat hanging off you. Curious if you're one of the 2.1 billion mentioned in the study? You can check that out here.
Typically, a body mass index that falls somewhere on the scale between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy. Anything below 18.5 is considered "underweight," unless you're in America, in which case you don't get chastised, you get a modelling contract. Anything between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and, according to the know-it-alls at the Harvard School of Public Health, "a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese."
That means that the study indicates fully one-third of the world's population has a body mass index of 30 or higher. Some people might say that means we're growing steadily more unhealthy as a society, but that's a glass half empty outlook. Just think about all the fringe benefits associated with that number.
Doesn't it mean that a third of the world's population is getting all the food they could possibly want? Take that, starvation! Doesn't it also mean that the medical industry is about to head into a boom period? That means more jobs, more educated people and tons of medical innovations (you can feel free to take that knowledge to the stock market, by the way). Wouldn't this news also put us closer to a live-action version of Wall-E? That little guy was adorable. And best of all? You can rest comfortably knowing that junk food companies like Hostess and Frito-Lay aren't going to be going anywhere in the near future. What could possibly be bad about a world that's chock full of Twinkies and Doritos?
Is this study suggesting that Americans should eat healthier and exercise? That would mean not patronizing companies like McDonald's and Taco Bell, companies that form the backbone of American awesomeness. Telling me to avoid them is like telling me what to do with my time and money. That's socialism, and I will be tarred and feathered before I let some scientist tell me to stop being a capitalist!
You might read these results and be concerned by a "growing epidemic" in the United States. At least that's how most of the country's scientists read them. But I say worrying isn't the path to go down. To me, this study is just further proof that there's one more metric where America leads the pack.