|President William Howard Taft (l) pictured prior to the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, March 04, 1913. Taft was the last American president to weigh more than 300lbs. He weighed 340 pounds or 154 kg in 1913. Photo: Library of Congress|
Rising obesity levels in OECD countries are
hitting strapped public health budgets and on this Thanksgiving Day, the
inconvenient truth is that America has the worst problem among the world's
developed countries with adult obesity rates doubling to 34% of the adult
population since 1980, while another 34% of US adults over 20 are overweight.
The OECD says obesity is a key risk factor for
many chronic conditions, with severely obese people dying up to 10 years earlier
than those of normal weight. A report shows that obesity rates have doubled or
even tripled in many countries since 1980. In more than half of OECD countries,
50% or more of the population is now overweight, if not obese. The obesity rate
in the adult population is highest in the United States, rising from 15% in 1980
to 34% in 2008, and lowest in Japan and Korea, at 4%.
In his 1937 book,
The Road to Wigan Pier, on the grim conditions of the English working
classes, George Orwell wrote:
“The basis of their diet is white bread and
margarine, corned beef, sugared tea and potato - - an appalling diet. Would it
not be better if they spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and
wholemeal bread?…Yes it would, but the point is, no human being would ever do
such a thing.…A millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita
biscuits; an unemployed man does not…When you are underfed, harassed, bored, and
miserable, you don’t want to eat dull wholesome food. You want to eat something
a little bit tasty.”
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