The top three causes of death in the US are, in order: heart disease, cancer and lower respiratory infections. All three of these are caused by lifestyle factors, specifically poor diet, inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking. Obesity causes more than 400,000 deaths alone each year.
Okay, so we are fat and sedentary and it's killing us. That's not really news I guess. However, as concerning as the mortality rate is, the morbidity rate is equally as concerning. A quick Public Health lesson- to distinguish between the two terms:
1- Mortality rate- quantity of life, how long you live (deaths in a population)
2- Morbidity rate- quality of life, how impaired you are (disease in a population)
Life expectancy has nearly doubled in the last 100 years (primarily due to vaccinations and antibiotics), and the morbidity rate is growing as well. Of those 80 years you may live, 10 of those are likely to be in a diseased state. To be fair, some of this is due to the simple fact that people are living longer. The longer you live, the more likely you are to have some sort of disease or condition. That being said, the main reason is the culmination of a lifetime of poor eating, sedentary behavior, and obesity. More than 18% of the deaths in the US each year are directly related to obesity. Damn. Let that sink in. No state is immune, but the South fares the worst.
In 1990, no state had an obesity rate higher than 15 percent. By 2008, no state had an obesity rate lower than 15 percent, and 6 states had obesity rates greater than 30 percent, by 2015 only four states had an obesity rate lower than 25%, four states had an obesity rate higher than 35%, and most of the US had an obesity rate of 30%. That means that in four states, 35% or more of the population is obese, and that the majority of the United States has an obesity rate of 30%. That is almost half. WOW. If this trend continues, Almost ALL of the United States will be obese in the next 15-20 years. That includes you.
Are you obese? Here is a handy BMI calculator. Although I'm not a huge fan of using BMI (it fails to factor in muscle mass) - it is a good tool for the general population. Essentially if you are an average height woman (5' 4") who weights 145-170 lbs., you are overweight (remember this doesn't factor in muscle, so if you are a weightlifter, or have lots of muscle, this isn't correct for you). If the same woman weights 170 lbs. or more, she is obese and at risk for all of the diseases that come along with that diagnosis.
As upsetting as this may be aesthetically, the years lost due to disease and infirmary are going to be unfathomable. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but once you are obese, diseased (diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease), and geriatric, it's too late. Prevention is the only real hope. The good news is, you can make a change. Your health, life and longevity belong to you. Start today.