Please Behold The Changing Obesity Rate In America

Look, this infographic with the recent obesity information we got from Drueisms is pretty disturbing. As you can see, 20 years ago, no states had an obesity rate over 19%. Now there’s only one with an obesity rate under  20%. The disturbing thing – at least to me – isn’t that the obesity rate seems to be rising, but that it never turns around. It never goes down at all. But you can’t even supersize things at McDonald’s anymore!

In essence (some of the key in between years are in the gallery below) we’ve gone from this:


to this:

obesity 2006


I’d really love to hear your thoughts on why you think this is. Economic conditions? More readily available terrible food? Witches? Bad-witch-magic is my answer to a lot of things.

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    • endn

      Oh lord have mercy I hate the way obesity is discussed sometimes. Thank you for resisting the urge to use this data to say that we’re all hideous fatties killing ourselves and mother earth.

      Not only is the definition of “obesity” itself very unreliable and variable and problematic, but fat/obesity isn’t just about food vs. exercise. There are also huge increases in environmental toxins, hormone-disrupting chemicals, and adiposity-increasing pharmaceuticals in the last 20-30 years. So, all that stuff. the end. if anyone tries to argue that or get all self-righteous on this hallowed hilarious ground of thegloss I will 100% flip my brains out

      • Kj

        WHAT SHE SAID. There’s no one answer.

    • Amanda Chatel

      My sister always bragged that Colorado was the thinnest state in the U.S. I always told her to shut her wonky yap. Instead of swallowing my pride and admitting she was right, I’m going to pretend I never saw this. I’m also going to order some pizza.

    • Niki

      Its worth noting that the 2 states with the highest rates (West Virginia and Mississippi) are also 2 states with some of the highest poverty rates in the country.

    • Rachel

      99% of that is because in the mid 90s, a panel, without a single doctor, randomly moved the BMI benchmark of what obesity was. BMI of course being a scale that actually is NOT in any way a good, or even reliable, indicator of obesity of any individual person.

    • Renee

      Maybe because the things they recommend to people to help them lose weight don’t actually work?

      Whole grains, white carbs, low-fat, and anything with sugar are bad for you!

      • Tania

        Wait, what? Whole grains are bad for you? Since when?

    • Lastango

      “I’d really love to hear your thoughts on why you think this is.”

      Let’s talk root causes. IMO, it comes from the “I’m ok, you’re ok” cultural shift. Constraining societal standards fell away, and suddenly there were far fewer guideposts telling us to rise to the challenge of looking after ourselves. So people didn’t. Becoming obese is not only the undemanding path, it actually requires that we do nothing while letting us indulge our appetite.

      Making matters worse, we how have societal accomodations (like extra-wide public seating, and a right to occupy two airline seats for the price of one) which validate obesity. That sends all the wrong signals. Obesity is not benign.

      • Rachel

        Then there are people who believe that obesity is simply a product of laziness + indulgence. Which is not only a vast oversimplification, but outright untrue.

      • Lastango

        @ Rachel — “Then there are people who believe that obesity is simply a product of laziness + indulgence”

        No. I am saying that obesity is a product of the cultural validation of being lazy and indulgent. We’re getting the casualness and the indulgence because those behaviours and the obesity they produce have been deemed ok.

        This cultural approval has received a boost from the ethos of postmodern social engineering, which values inclusiveness ahead of everything else, actively deconstructs every societal yardstick, and deems it inappropriate to question anyone else’s choices or lifestyle.

      • Rachel


        That’s an interesting theory, that ignores all sorts of science.

        1. The presumption that an obese person of any size is participating in “indulgent” or “bad” life styles has reems and reems of evidence to refute it.

        2. Obesity on its own is not a risk factor in just about anything. At most it can augment other risk factors if they are present.

        3. The las 75 years has introduced dramatic environmental, food and medical changes that have affected the human body in ways that we are only beginning to understand.

        4. The presumption that obese = death has yet to actually be proven. In fact, studies are showing that BMI with one statistical difference above ‘healthy’ live longer.

      • Lastango

        @ Rachel
        I’m saying that letting go is a choice. Obesity is the consequence, not the choice. Obesity is one of the things that happens when we let go.

        Anyone interested in the impacts and risks of obesity can start at this link. They will read, for instance, that “The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are staggering. In 2008 dollars, these costs totaled about $147 billion.”

        Or here, where the estimate is $190 billion. There’s also a discussion of employment costs:

        “Because obesity raises the risk of a host of medical conditions, from heart disease to chronic pain, the obese are absent from work more often than people of healthy weight. The most obese men take 5.9 more sick days a year; the most obese women, 9.4 days more. Obesity-related absenteeism costs employers as much as $6.4 billion a year, health economists led by Eric Finkelstein of Duke University calculated.”

        Don’t like those numbers? Try these:

        “Obesity indirectly costs the United States at least $450 billion annually—almost three times the direct medical cost.”

        Or these:

        “Obese men rack up an additional $1,152 a year in medical spending, especially for hospitalizations and prescription drugs, Cawley and Chad Meyerhoefer of Lehigh University reported in January in the Journal of Health Economics. Obese women account for an extra $3,613 a year.”

      • Lizzie

        “No. I am saying that obesity is a product of the cultural validation of being lazy and indulgent. We’re getting the casualness and the indulgence because those behaviours and the obesity they produce have been deemed ok.”

        Can you really provide evidence of this “communal subconscious trend” towards laziness and indulgence? I’d like statistics, please (and saying “it’s because of postmodernism” doesn’t count).

        Also: if your argument doesn’t make sense with small words, it won’t make sense with big words either.

    • MEFP

      There seem to be 4 states with a rate under 20, not just one… I realize Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Connecticut are a little harder to see

    • Realist UK

      For crying out loud it is not rocket science. I am 5’1″ female and should be around 8 – 9 stone I am 11 stone – fat ! full stop. I eat more than my body needs so it stores it as fat! If you are fat you are eating more food than you need. You don’t need doctors, scientists or anyone else to tell you that. Yes, there are some people with medical conditions, but these are few. There were no “naturaly” big peole in Auschwitz, no “naturally” big people in drought stricken Etheopia.
      In UK it is the same picture we are getting fatter because we are consumer societies and food is just another cosumable we do to extreeme excess, while in some 3rd world countires people /kids are dying of staravation.
      People need to grow a pair and stop making excuses for thier avarice.
      I am depressed so I overeat eat, I am poor so I eat crap all day …………….. please. It is a total lack of will power to say no to food that is the problem, whatever b@llocks excuse you want to use.

      • Rachel

        Well the world is awfully simple where you come from then. Ignoring medical science doesn’t make it conveniently go away. If it was truly that simple then dieting success stories would not need the fine print that tells us ‘results are not typical’ and that only 5% of diets are only successful in the long term. Even if the dieter breaks absolutely zero of their diet rules. What I think is hilarious is that if anything else has that tiny a success rate, they’d be sued off their collective butts if they tried to advertise it they way I see it n television.

        The truth is our very definition of fat has changed to a dangerous and unhealthy line that makes health unacheivable and the actions we’re supposed to take to be health are actually deadly. Your dieting has been proven to lead to all sorts of health risks, including death.

      • Endn

        I would like to flip my shit but the self hatred here is too sad

    • Realist UK

      Rachel – you are totally correct diets do not work, they are as abnormal as overeating. Eating sensibley all the time, not just a short term diet is what works. We can all have a blow out now and then but this should be the exception not the norm.
      There is no short term fix, the thing that diets are. Don’t confuse dieting with lifestyle changing healthy eating habits for the long haul.

      • Rachel

        I agree, except when someone is eating according to the prescribed healthy lifestyle, and let’s face it, no one has agreed on exactly what’s healthy, and they still stay obese according to the random line on a chart, everyone will assume that they are obviously not trying hard enough instead of maybe thinking that their body knows where it is most healthy.

    • Realist UK

      Rachel – I am sorry, but the reality is, the bottom line is, (if not suffering a RARE medical condition) they are still eating more than there THIER body needs – end of. We are not hunter gatherers burning up vast calories daily any more, most of our lives are very sedate. There are still lots of people in our 21 st centuary world that do still work in hard labour / physically demanding jobs, but, the majority of us don’t. It is suprising how little Kcals engery that food gives us we actually need if we are just sitting at a desk job every day.
      Food is one of lifes greatest pleasures an I have overindulged in the last 18 months that I have put on 2 stone. I have had a lot of shit happen in my life in that period, along with a stressful job, that I am still in, that I used as an exucse to comfort eat. I am addressing that, and I am not in denial of the simple fact that I have been eating too much crap and even of the ‘healthy’ foods I was eating way too big a portions and more than my body needed. And Hey “miraclulously” after getting back to a healthier lifestyle, NOT dieting, my excess weight it is comming off.

      Most people are unrealistic about potion control and in denial about the the amount of food they are actually eating. You mention healthy eating ‘recommendations’, but they are only universal norms and some of us will need to eat more, some less. If poeple are not loosing weight they are eating too much for THEIR body’s needs.

      I don’t get wrapped up in BMI, I have never calautaled mine, I don’t need to to know I am way too fat for my height and build. I know this without even stepping on a scale. There is no magic pill, but we are all adults that need to take control of our destiny, it is not something someone else can do for us and being in denial about the amount of food eaten or needed does not get people on the right track to a a healthier existence.