A new report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has shed more light on the terrifying reality of our seemingly unyielding obesity epidemic. Entitled “Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit Not Fat,” a team of health economists summarized research on topics like obesity trends, intervention effectiveness, and the economics behind them.
The graph below are the current levels of obesity and predicted future figures if we continue at our current pace:
75% of Americans are supposed to be overweight by 2020. These numbers pose a terrifying threat to the world’s health and economy. Currently in America, the direct cost of medical costs of obesity are about $93 billion dollars (read more), not to mention the indirect costs of the many associated diseases.
What is going on here? Despite the billions of dollars invested in weight loss research and interventions, we can’t seem to slow this trend.
What happened in the late 70s that caused this sudden spike in obesity? The problem with going back in time and finding an event which coincided with this trend is that you will likely find a correlation, not a cause. Never the less, some researchers have provided some insight.
In a study on refined carbohydrate consumption in the US, researchers found a dramatic rise in carbohydrate intake in the late 1970s, and correlated it it with obesity rates:
The Center for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) found a similar trend. From about 1976 to 2000, the percent of calories from carbohydrates steadily increased, while the percent from fat and protein slightly decreased.
These trends have caused many to believe carbohydrates are the cause of the obesity epidemic.
But to assume causation from a graph like the one above, would be to make a fundamental mistake in the world of statistics. It would be like a college student theorizing that sleeping with your shoes on causes headaches the following morning, when actually it was those five appletini’s the night before that did it.
We are on pace to overwhelm our healthcare system and decrease the lifespan of our entire population. Something needs to change.
Dietary Research, Nutrition and Weight Loss, Trends