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The U.S. now has the highest adult obesity rate in the developed world, 34 percent, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. The report compares adult obesity rates across 33 of the world's wealthiest countries. The U.S. is ranked second behind Mexico, with 68 and 70 percent, in the proportion of adults who are overweight. The rapidly increasing U.S. obesity rates have long been cause for concern, especially as health care costs skyrocket. Here's what people have to say about the report. Scientific American also presents A Graphical View of U.S. Obesity.

  • Bad and Getting Worse The OECD report warns, "Since the 1980s, obesity has spread at an alarming rate. Changes in food supply and eating habits, combined with a dramatic fall in physical activity, have made obesity a global epidemic. Across OECD countries, one in 2 adults is currently overweight and 1 in 6 is obese. The rate of overweight people is projected to increase by a further 1% per year for the next 10 years in some countries. Rates are highest in the United States and Mexico and lowest in Japan and Korea, but have been growing virtually everywhere. Children have not been spared, with up to 1 in 3 currently overweight."
  • U.S. Child Obesity Tied With Scotland The New York Times' Catherine Rampell finds, "The United States does, however, hold the dubious honor of fattest population of children, tied with Scotland. (Note that the rates for children are not exactly comparable, though, as different countries report obesity and overweight rates for different age ranges of children)."
  • In Every Country, Upwards Trend Think Progress's Matthew Yglesias worries, "I think the real story here is that the trends are universally upwards. ... What you'd like to see in international data is some example of a prosperous country where obesity isn't just at a lower level than in the United States, but where there's no rate of increase. But we don't have one. And the mechanism isn't necessarily all that mysterious." He says that despite "different food cultures" across the developed world, there are "underlying forces" that are hurting everyone.
  • What's Causing Increase The Associated Press's Greg Keller reports, "Franco Sassi, the OECD senior health economist who authored the report, blamed the usual suspects for the increase. 'Food is much cheaper than in the past, in particular food that is not particularly healthy, and people are changing their lifestyles, they have less time to prepare meals and are eating out more in restaurants,' said Sassi, a former London School of Economics lecturer who worked on the report for three years. That plus the fact that people are much less physically active than in the past means that the ranks of the overweight have swelled to nearly 70 percent in the U.S. this year from well under 50 percent in 1980, according to the OECD."
  • Poor Response From Governments  USA Today's Nanci Hellmich writes, "Neville Rigby, director of the European Obesity Forum, says the OECD report 'is important because it provides clear evidence that the way most countries have been approaching obesity has been doomed to failure. ... Obesity must be tackled by a multi-pronged approach that involves a combination of strong policy measures at the same time as individual management issues are addressed by physicians and their teams. ... [The report] makes the case for a much more robust set of government and societal actions,' Rigby says. If society waits for business and individuals to do what is really needed, 'the obesity epidemic will simply get much, much worse.'"
  • What U.S. Can Learn from Colorado Slate's Juliet Lapidos writes, "Colorado is the least obese state, according to the 'increasing girth rate' graphic in Tuesday's Washington Post. Just 19.1% of its population had a body mass index of 30 or more in 2009, making it the only state in the union with an obesity rate of less than 20 percent. Why are Coloradans skinnier than everyone else?" Lapidos ventures, "It could be their outdoor culture. ... [Or,] Demographically, the state had a lot going for it. We know that poverty and obesity are strongly correlated, and that people with more education are less likely to be obese." However, "While Colorado remains the skinniest state, its obesity rate has nearly doubled in just a decade and a half. Furthermore, as of 2007, Colorado ranked near the middle on childhood obesity rates, so the nation's girth map may soon be changing."

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