Obesity: Why Americans keep expanding

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Why are Americans so fat—and getting fatter with every passing year? said Brian Stelter in The New York Times. Seventy percent of adults in the U.S. are either overweight or obese, and so are one third of children and teens.

This week, HBO began airing a four-part documentary, The Weight of the Nation, that aims to serve as a “wake-up call about an American obesity epidemic.” The “conventional wisdom” about obesity has been wrong, said Gary Taubes in Newsweek. For decades, experts have told Americans we’re fat simply because we eat too much and exercise too little. But new research shows that it’s not merely how much we eat, but what we’re eating that’s the problem—way too much sugar; refined flour in the form of bread, pasta, and pizza; and starches like potatoes. These simple carbohydrates cause insulin to spike, programming the body to retain fat. To reverse the deadly obesity trend, Americans need a new understanding of “what constitutes a healthy diet.”

Ah, “the food nannies” are back, said Julie Gunlock in These scolds have been repeating the same message for years: “You’re feeble, you’re dumb, and you’re too busy and addled to take care of your own health.” But there’s no need for our “benevolent government minders” to dictate what we eat, thanks very much. In fact, we fat people are sick of being shamed this way, said Lindy West in The bullies now assume they have the right to legislate what people are allowed to eat “‘for their own good,’ or ‘for the children,’ or even ‘because they’re gross.’” But cruel criticism of fat people’s diets “isn’t going to make fat people any less fat; it only makes them more miserable.”

“I know a lot of you don’t like our government being involved in our personal lives,” said Leslie Marshall in But Americans are quite literally eating themselves to death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now predicts that the obesity rate will rise from 36 percent today to 42 percent by 2030. A new report from the nonprofit Institute of Medicine recommends that the government respond by heavily taxing sugar-filled sodas, and changing farm subsidies to benefit fruit and vegetable growers over corn, wheat, and dairy farmers. The alternative is to do nothing, while America becomes “the land of the fat, and the home of the obese.”