More Than One-in-Four Americans Now Obese
Posted By Dr. Mercola | August 17 2010
Americans are continuing to get fatter. Obesity rates reached 30 percent or more in nine states last year, as opposed to only three states in 2007.
The increases mean that 2.4 million more people became obese from 2007 to 2009. This brings the total to 72.5 million, or 26.7 percent of the population.
According to the New York Times:
"... [T]he rates are probably underestimates because they are based on a phone survey in which 400,000 participants were asked their weight and height instead of having it measured by someone else, and people have a notorious tendency to describe themselves as taller and lighter than they really are ...
Researchers blame the usual suspects: too little exercise and too much of the wrong kind of food."
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Obesity rates are increasing at an alarming rate, and now nearly one in four Americans -- and one in three in some locations -- is considered obese, not just overweight, as two out of three Americans are at this level, but obese meaning massively overweight. Generally this is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, and does not include those who are simply "overweight," with a BMI of 25 to 29.9.
When both are taken into account, a full two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, and in some ethnic groups the rates are even higher, such as African-American women, of whom nearly 80 percent are currently either overweight or obese.
The problem, aside from the wide prevalence already, is that the trend is showing no sign of stopping. The United States is already the third fattest country in the world, beat out only by Kiribati, a Pacific nation with an 81.5 percent overweight and obesity rate, and American Samoa, where nearly 94 percent of the population is overweight.
So, clearly, we haven't got much room to grow, and it's time to get to the bottom of what is causing so many Americans to pack on extra pounds. Our health as individuals, and as a nation, depends on it.
What is Causing the Rise in Obesity?
There are many variables that contribute to obesity -- lack of exercise, emotional stress, lack of sleep and even the makeup of bacteria in your gut can all contribute -- but on a cultural scale it is the ingestion of fructose that is the primary variable contributing to the obesity epidemic.
I know that may appear overly simplistic to many but this is an area I have studied carefully for many years, and after evaluating many thousands of pages of documents, I agree with the growing number of experts who have identified fructose as the most significant dietary factor that directly causes obesity, along with hypertension, diabetes, and a number of other related health problems.
In a recent article featuring an interview with Dr. Richard Johnson, I discussed compelling new evidence that links fructose consumption with increased uric acid levels, which is intricately linked to obesity and associated health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.
I strongly advise you to read that article and listen to the interview to get a more in-depth understanding of the fructose/uric acid connection and how fructose wreaks havoc on your health -- and your waistline.
If You're Overweight or Obese, You Probably Have Elevated Uric Acid Levels
When you eat fructose, the type of sugar widely used in soda, processed foods and even "natural" sweeteners like agave syrup, it breaks down into a variety of waste products that are bad for your body, one of which is uric acid.
Thanks to Dr. Johnson's research, we now know that fructose generates uric acid within minutes of ingestion. High levels of uric acid are normally associated with gout, but it has been long known that people with high blood pressure and kidney disease, and people who are overweight, often have elevated uric acid levels as well.
It was thought this increased uric acid resulted from the disease, but it appears now that it may have been CAUSING it!
Not surprisingly, uric acid levels have been increasing for the past hundred years.
When your uric acid level exceeds about 5.5 mg per dl, you have an increased risk for a host of diseases, including hypertension, kidney disease, diabetes, and fatty liver, along with obesity.
You may actually be able to determine just how sensitive you are to fructose, meaning how well your body is able to process fructose without it causing excessive harm, by measuring your uric acid levels.
Dr. Johnson suggests that the ideal uric acid level is probably around 4 mg/dl for men and 3.5 mg/dl for women. Most people who are overweight likely have uric acid levels well above 5.5. Some may even be closer to 10 or above.
So I would STRONGLY encourage everyone to have their uric acid level checked to find out how sensitive you are to fructose. The higher your uric acid, the more you need to limit or even avoid fructose -- including in fruits -- until your uric acid level normalizes.
Again, the key step to optimize your uric acid levels if they are too high is the same as for optimizing your insulin levels, which is to drastically reduce or completely eliminate fructose and other sugars from your diet.
Health Risks of Excess Weight
Obesity is easily one of the greatest public health disasters facing the United States, as it can take an extreme toll on your vitality.
Your body is designed to operate best when it's at an ideal weight. Carrying around extra pounds will inevitably increase your risk of developing just about every chronic degenerative disease known to man, including these 20 diseases and conditions that are directly attributable to being overweight.
- People who are moderately obese live two to five years less than people that have ideal weight.
- The lifespan of those who are severely obese might be reduced by five to 10 years.
- The biggest threat of obesity is heart disease, which is now one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Of course, obesity itself is not the underlying cause of any health problem; it is merely a symptom. In a nutshell, insulin resistance is the underlying factor of a large number of diseases, and one of the signs that you're a prime candidate for developing insulin resistance is obesity.
Insulin resistance is also directly linked to increased inflammation in your body, and chronic inflammation is the hallmark of high cholesterol, heart disease, and many other chronic health conditions.
It's quite clear that controlling your insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to optimize your health and is also the most potent anti-aging strategy at your disposal. Plus, the very same steps that help you to optimize your insulin levels will also help you to lose weight.
Losing Weight by Addressing Obesity at its Source
In the vast majority of cases, obesity is a direct result of poor dietary choices, especially consuming too much sugar and fructose, and a lack of exercise.
When you start paying close attention to what you're eating along with getting lots of physical activity, drastic beneficial changes can take place. So your first steps, if you're interested in driving down your insulin and uric acid levels and losing weight, should be to follow these four tenets of long-term optimal health and weight:
- Eat a healthy diet that's right for your nutritional type, paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down, primarily by avoiding fructose as much as possible
- Exercise. It is particularly important that you integrate the newer Peak Fitness Techniques into your program.
- Get plenty of sleep
- Manage your stress
The rewards of paying close attention to these four basic tenets of health can be priceless and are well within your reach. I am not suggesting that weight loss is easy, only that it is something you can accomplish if you put your mind to it.
If you live in the Chicago area and would like some extra support and guidance in weight loss, you can visit my Natural Health Center. Those of you in other areas who need weight loss support can look for a holistic health care practitioner who specializes in weight loss in your area, as well as join in the Mercola.com Natural Health Community where you can share your weight loss challenges and successes with like-minded people.
It's never too late to make positive changes for the better, so today can be the first day you start living the life you really want … and deserve