Fork, Spoon, and

Eat Right.
Be Active.
Continue Learning.

Obesity In America

N. Jay Sorensen, MBA RD
Last Updated: January 12, 2015

Obesity continues to be one of America's most mentioned topics in the media today. Often citing the increased incidence of disease because we American's are fat. Why, we eat out too often, we do not make the right menu choices, and most importantly--we are not active enough to compensate for the intake of high calorie foods consumed everyday.

You are what you eat. The fact is many American’s are out to lunch when it comes to making healthy food choices. The obesity epidemic is affecting every man, women, and child regardless of age, race, religion or geographic location. Obesity occurs in over one-third of adults age 20 or over (BMI ≥ 30). More remarkable is the dramatic weight increase in America’s adolescent youth. According to the NHANES 1999 - 2000 data, 15% of children ages 6-11 are overweight.

Obesity Among Adults (≥ 18 yo)
1990 - 2004

Source: BRFSS - Department of Health, CDC

We are unknowingly making unhealthy food choices. Obese individuals, young or old, are at increased risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoarthritis to name a few. Use the BMI Calculator to determine your risk of obesity.

Why? Today, American families cook and eat together less at home while spending over 60¢ out of every food dollar (or more) on meals eaten away from home. With the increased frequency of families eating out more than three or four nights a week; their tastes and preferences desire large portions of high-fat, high-sodium, and high-calorie foods. Think about the amount of calories from one sixteen ounce soda served as the beverage of choice of children. A whopping 194 calories of empty calories and this is only the appetizer. Just think of the meals eaten outside the home are prepared at deli counters or curbside serving restaurants such as Applebee's, Mc. Donald's, Burger King, Wendy's, etc...

Obesity Comorbidities

● Diabetes ● Obstruction Sleep Apnea
● Hypertension ● Pseudotumor Cerebri
● Cancer ● Psychological Disorders
● Elevated Cholesterol ● Social Disorders
● Cardiovascular Disease ● Degenerative Arthritis
● Gallbladder Disease ● Gallstones
● Fatty Liver ● Sleep Disorders
● Female Reproductive System Disorders ● Heart Attacks and Strokes
● Asthma ● Depression

Although many consumers are aware of food labels and basic nutrition principals; consumers are unaware of how foods are prepared outside of the home. Food service establishments cooking methods include using highly processed foods, breading, deep-frying, and added fats for flavoring. The fact is that food prepared outside the home are typically high in fat, saturated fat, sodium, and calories. These attributes are compounded by the increased portion sizes served today. We must recognize that consumers are yearning for healthy food choices. However, at the point of sale, larger portion sizes are ordered by consumers and producers are capitalizing on the potential sale by offer larger servings.

Below are 10 easy ways to incorporate healthy eating habits into the daily diet:

Healthy Eating Habits

1) Eat breakfast everyday.
2) Plan your daily meals.
3) Pack a fruit snack for the commute.
4) Choose the smaller portion food entree's, if you eat out for lunch.
5) Eat a snack when you get home; tortillas with salsa.
6) Before grocery shopping, write a shopping list for Produce, Dry\Can Goods, Deli, Meat & Seafood, Dairy, and Frozen foods.
7) Plan and prepare fish and vegetarian meals weekly.
8) Choose not to add fat to prepared foods.
9) Eat dinner every night; before 7:30 PM.
10) Have a snack an hour or so before bed.

So what are families eating when they are home? For the foods eaten at home, families often eat what is considered Take Home To Eat foods; basically Heat and Serve meals. The food eaten often includes a considerable amount of snack items (about 1/4 of the daily diet). Besides not eating healthy, more and more families are missing an important opportunity to interact with each other at the dinner table. 

To battle against the bulge, you must incorporate a variety of foods into the diet. Perform regular amounts of exercise each day and continue to work your brain. Go to  Obesity Prevention Information for more information.

Childhood Obesity


Facts About Obesity

  • Obesity rates are soaring in the United States.
  • About 60 million adults, or 30% of the adult population, are now obese.
  • Obesity is already having an adverse impact on young people.
  • Type 2 diabetes -- once believed to affect only adults -- is now being diagnosed among young people.
  • Most people still do not practice healthy behaviors that can prevent obesity.
  • Obesity-related costs place a huge burden on the U.S. economy.
  • Direct health costs attributed to obesity have been estimated at $75 billion in 2003.

Source: CDC