Even after warning Americans for two decades that we're getting too fat, new research shows Americans are fatter today than we have ever been, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The Journal of the American Medical Association reports 39.6% of Americans over the age of 20 are obese, up from 33.7% in 2007.
Dr. John Higgins of the McGovern Medical School at UT Health Houston tells News Radio 1200 WOAI that the numbers were starting to go down in the late 2000s, and then came the rise of mobile computing, and we have become, especially among younger people, a society where physical activity is no longer prized.
"PhysEd is no longer mandatory in a lot of schools now," he said. "We have a lot of areas that we really need to work on."
Dr. Higgins says the most scary numbers are in obese and overweight children. He says these are what is known as 'iGen,' the generation that, rather than socializing, will be sitting around staring at their phones.
"They would rather sit around in a Starbucks drinking high calorie coffees or cappuchinos, while everyone is texting and surfing the web."The rise in obesity was driven largely by greater prevalence among women and adults over 40, while there was no statistically significant increase among men aged 20 to 39.
The study also shows a sharp rise in obesity among adults aged 40 to 59, in the prime of their working lives. Dr. Higgins isn't surprised by these numbers, he says it has been proven that stress is a major cause of obesity, and the workplace these days is more stressful than ever, once again, largely due to electronic communications that has made the workplace a 24/7/365 place.
"I recomment for my patients who are overweight, they spend at least one hour of screen-free time, completely disconnected."
Dr. Higgins says there is another disturbing statistic in the JAMA report. He says obesity is making it down to three and four year old children. When a toddler is overweight, it makes it increasingly difficult for that person to lose weight later in life, and obesity also puts a dangerous strain on young, undeveloped vascular systems.
Dr. Higgins also called out the food stamp program, which, while restricting the purchase of some items, allows people to buy large amounts of fatty junk foods at government expense. He says that amounts to the taxpayers funding the purchase of foods so the taxpayers later on will have to pay for the effects of those foods in elevated diabetes and heart disease rates.