In 2010 about 36% of American adults were obese – 30 pounds over a healthy weight – and 6% were severely obese – 100 pounds over a healthy weight. However, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine predicted 42% of Americans could be obese by 2030 and 11% severely obese. This would mean 32 million more obese Americans in 20 years. Extra weight increases risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, many kinds of cancer and sleep apnea. Because medical-related costs could reach $147 billion yearly, there will have to be “fat” in the U.S. health care budget.
Ghrelin and 2-arachidonoyglycerlo contribute to obesity. They are chemicals released in our bodies when we “pleasure eat”. Even when we feel full, they trigger a feeling of reward. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 8 healthy adults who were satiated were given their favorite food and later a less-palatable food of equal caloric and nutritional value. However, the blood levels of ghrelin and 2-AG increased only when favorite foods were eaten. The body’s reward system overrides the body’s signal enough has been eaten. Unfortunately in our junk-food society, pleasure eating is “big business”.
Further complicating the problem, mothers don’t see their children as overweight. A study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine asked 281 mothers to look at cartoon drawings of toddlers ranging from scrawny to plump and pick the drawing most resembling their child. Approximately 70% of the mothers misjudged their toddler’s body size, but the rate was much higher for mothers of overweight children. Ninety-four percent of them indentified their child as normal size. “Cute baby fat” increases children’s risk of being overweight later in life. In fact, most children don’t grow out of it – and that’s a “growing” concern.
Finally, Americans’ prejudice against obese people impedes the efforts to fight the obesity epidemic. In a 2012 Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,143 adults, 61% said the main cause of obesity is personal choices about eating and exercising and 49% favored obese people being charged more for health insurance. In fact, studies have shown doctors spend less time with obese patients. Unfortunately, discrimination on the basis of weight is legal in every state except Michigan. Everywhere else it’s legal to refuse to hire or to rent to people if they are obese. However, obesity is a problem we all need to “fat-hom”.