Monday, April 21, 2008

On the so-called obesity crisis

Target. Jasper Johns. 1974

According to, well, everyone these days we are in the middle of an obesity crisis in the US. According to the CDC 32.3% of adults, 66 million of us, are "obese". Figure half that, 33 million, are women. That's a lot of shoppers, no? Granted it all depends on how you define "obese".

One thing I've noticed a lot lately is the tendency for the medical profession to slip the numbers. It used to be, for example, that if your fasting blood sugar was over 200 you were a Diabetic. Then it was over 160. Now it's over 126, and if it's over 100 you have Impaired fasting glycaemia or Pre-diabetes. And they are thinking of cutting that down to 95. And, of course, there is a pill available to treat all of it. The same thing is happening with cholesterol levels, and with blood pressure numbers, and so on. What makes us think it's not happening with weight too? This week being 160 pounds is fine, next week your overweight, a month from now you're obese. Not that you've gained an ounce, they've just shifted the numbers on you.

Now, what makes me think they're shifting the numbers around? That the US isn't getting fatter, they're just trying to sell us all a bill of no-fat/no-carb/no-calorie/stomach destroying surgical goods? Target.

Yes, that Target.

The fifth biggest retailer in the US. In direct competition with Wal-Mart, 63 billion dollars in revenue, 76% of it's customers female Target. That Target. You know if there really were 33 million fat women walking around in the US, they are going to want the biggest chunk of that pie they can get.

So why have they stopped selling plus-sized underwear?


Yea, exactly.

For more on how the numbers in health care keep shifting, I recommend Sandy Szwarc's excellent blog, JunkFoodScience.

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