America’s Secret Weapon in the Obesity War: Richard Simmons
December 7th, 2009
We just can’t get away from news about our fatness. In fact, seems we’re always hearing about Americans’ obesity, or dangerous trends pointing to a fat future.
The latest tidbits? A new study reveals that doctors can predict a person’s odds of developing heart disease by measuring their body mass index (BMI) and the size of their waist. And new information published in the New England Journal of Medicine and reported by Bloomberg shows that while a decrease in smoking rates has slightly increased life expectancy in the United States, the gain is pretty much meaningless because of so many of us are overweight.
All of which is to say that if you’re not aware that we’re a nation of fatties, you’ve been living under a rock.
Still, the Obesity Panacea blog reports on a troubling new study showing that the fatter the country gets, the less Americans seem to notice their own fatness.
The study, recently published in Obesity journal by scientists Burke, Heiland, and Nadler, compared two cohorts of the population – one who answered survey questions in the 1990s and the other in the early 2000s:
“Just as the researchers predicted, overweight individuals today are less likely to classify themselves as “overweight” in contrast to overweight individuals surveyed over a decade ago. For example, the proportion of overweight women who perceive their weight to be “about right” increased from 14% to 21%, and that among overweight men from 41 to 46% … Interestingly it was among individuals aged 20-25 that the greatest shift towards inaccurate weight classification occurred – overweight individuals in this age group were most likely to see themselves as ‘normal weight.”
The study also illustrated other factors that affect a person’s ability to correctly gauge their fatness, and these factors remained constant over both survey groups:
“Those who are educated are more likely to self-classify as overweight than those who are not, those with higher incomes are more likely to feel overweight than those with the lowest incomes, married people are more likely to feel overweight than never-married people, and members of minority groups are less likely than whites to consider themselves overweight.”
Vouching for all those old, married people who “feel overweight” (a polite euphemism for “It’s all downhill from here!”), I think the time has come for dramatic action.
I’m calling for an intervention on a national scale, and I know just who we need. Not well meaning researchers or posturing politicians. These desperate times demand someone who can whip our double-wide rear ends into shape, no questions asked. We need … Richard Simmons.
Remember the Richard Simmons you watched on television as a youngster? (Perhaps I’m dating myself; some of you were not born yet, I’m sure, but you’ll have to trust me on this.) He was brilliant – funny, energetic, compassionate, and most importantly, whole-heartedly devoted to your well-being. Like your mom, only more fluorescent.
Richard, where, oh, where are you now? Surely no reality television deal could pay you enough to justify ignoring a fat nation in its time of need.
Richard Simmons, for the love of God, Fat America needs you. Save us! Or at least tell us it’s all going to be okay. And pass over the Domino’s menu while you’re at it.
This column was written for SodaHead.