Monday, April 8, 2013

A correlational timeline on obesity in America

Walking through the downtown of my community I am nostalgic for a simpler time.  A time when the community was smaller, people were more active and the trolley system still ran.  I am Gil from Midnight in Paris.  I want to walk the streets in the rain.

During my reading I come across a lot of articles that often takes me to that idea of a simpler time.  Bloomberg's soda ban was one of those moments when I wished our society could enjoy life in moderation, as Wendy Worrall Redal suggests in her article.  While I empathize with Bloomberg's idea, my feelings on our obesity epidemic are slightly different than most.  I feel the cause of our country's obesity epidemic is due to lack of community.  The idea that we all need to mind our own business, when in fact-minding everyone's business has been an element of charm we are consciously and purposefully killing off.

Cars began this level of isolation from others-we can roll our windows up and ignore the outside.  If someone threatens this-we can merely drive past.  Elitists at their finest.  Sunglasses gave us another element to 'hide behind'-appeasing our sense to look without commitment.   

Until the 60's when the United States adapted an idea allowing couples to divorce without assigning blame.  Suddenly women were divorcing their husbands at an accelerated rate.  At the same time, these women were required to join the workforce to sustain their family and thus, time became their bitter enemy-not allowing much time for a garden or in some cases a fully prepared meal-presenting an opportunity for 'fast' restaurants. 

In 1975 divorce was at 48.1%, where it would remain relatively steady until at drop in 2009.  In that time the fast food industry would grow from $6 Billion in 1970 to $110 Billion in 2000.

According to the Federal Highway Administration,  since 1960 passenger vehicles registered have been growing steadily at approx 3.69 million/year.  There have been jumps and declines scattered throughout the last 50+ years, but interestingly enough the largest percentage increase occurred from 1972-1973.

In 1960 obesity was at 13% of adults and no percentage was reported in children (by the CDC).  In 1980 a 5-7% obesity rate was recorded in children from 6-19 years old and in 2010 17% of children were reportedly obese along with 35.7% of adults.

On March 28th, 2013 CNN's food blog, Eatocracy featured an article on children's menus in popular restaurants and how 97% of the meals do not meet 'basic nutritional standards'.  The comments below feature a vast variety of opinions, but who is to blame?  The parent or the restaurant? 

Its of the opinion of this author that we are all to blame.  People should not be faulted for wanting or needing to go out to eat.  In some cases-there are few other options-also, its fun!  We have developed a culture of 'thats your problem, not mine' for so long that we are hurting ourselves and each other.  One neighbors over production of tomatoes, go to waste because they can not be bothered to offer them to the neighbors-who may be a single parent juggling three kids.  The single parent takes the kids to the local fast-food joint because they didn't have time to go to the store over the weekend and are a can of tomatoes short of a meal.  So the parent takes the kids through the drive-thru (way easier than taking 3 kids on a quick trip to the store).  The parent lives 3 blocks from a little corner grocer, but 'doesnt feel like' walking and is considered overweight.  Their weight is a factor on their insurance, which has gone up because the oldest was just taken to the doctor for their annual checkup and is now considered 'overweight'.  The insurance is a group plan where 70% of the employees (this percentage reflecting the current American average) are considered overweight or obese as well-so the entire company's insurance is incredibly high due to the weight of their employees.  So much so, they are considering 'restructuring' their benefits package which includes a discount to their employee food court that contains 3 fast food chains, a bakery, a deli and a coffee shop.  The fast food chains are the cheapest and thus usually the most popular at lunchtime.  Plus, there is a company daycare for employees-so the parent can have lunch with their kids.

So you tell me, who is really responsible?

I'd love to hear what you have to say!  Please leave comments below!

The Timeline of this article:
Early 1900's - Cars were hitting the roads and becoming more and more utilized by citizens
1920-Divorce occurred in 13.3% of marriages
 1921- White Castle (America's first fast food restaurant) opened in Wichita, Kansas
 early1920's-Carhops were developed so people would not have to get out of their cars to eat
1940-Divorce occurred in 16.5% of marriages
1951-'fast food' was inducted into the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
1960-Divorce occurred in 25.8% of marriages
1962- Only 13% of adults were considered obese
1965-Divorce occurred in 26.6% of marriages
late 1960's- America adopted the 'no fault' divorce
1970-Fast food restaurants were pulling in $6 Billion dollars in the U.S.
1970-Divorce occurred in 32.8% of marriages
1975-Divorce occurred in 48.1% of marriages
1980-"The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period." Taken directly from the CDC's website-link below.
2000-Fast food restaurants were bringing in $110 Billion dollars in the U.S.
2010-Obesity in the U.S. was 35.7% in adults and 17% in children

Children's Menus:
Divorce Rates:
Carhop, casseroles, fast food and White Castle: Wikipedia

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