Quick: What day is it today? If you answered Tuesday or September 18, you're technically right but you're actually very, tragically wrong, because it's National Cheeseburger Day which a) exists and b) is a great opportunity to check out a new burger joint. It's also, perhaps, time to reflect on the consequences of living in a country where every day is Cheeseburger Day.
The Trust For America's Health just released a report titled "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012," which, as you may be able to tell, is not exactly celebration of our nation's expanding waistline. The Star-Telegram reported the story with the headline that Texas is the 10th fattest state in the country, but the report's not about how fat we already are; it's about how fat we're going to be.
And how fat is that? Pretty damn fat. Every single state will have an obesity rate or 44 percent or above, with Mississippi topping the list at 66.7 percent. Texas, at 57.7 percent, is considerably lower than that, but still. In 18 years, six out of every 10 people you see
walking waddling steering a motorized vehicle down the street will be obese.
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With the increased rate of obesity will come a corresponding increase in the rate of obesity-related disease. The study predicts that, over the next 20 years, obesity will contribute to 2.9 million new cases of type 2 diabetes; 5.7 million cases of heart disease; 5.7 million cases of hypertension; and 800,000 new cases of cancer. Related health-care costs will grow by 17.1 percent.
The report does contain a kernel of good news: Texas will drop 11 slots on the state-by-state obesity list. So even though we're getting fatter, we're doing so more slowly that other states which counts as a victory.
The Trust For America's Health also holds out hope that we can reduce our average BMI by five percent, the rough equivalent of everyone losing 10 pounds. That would spare a couple of million Texans from chronic disease and save $54 billion in health care costs over 20 years.
Then again, doing all that would require some combination of eating a proper diet and exercising, both of which we will get to work on right away. Right after Cheeseburger Day.