Taller, Fatter, and Hopefully Better Looking…

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It looks like we were misunderestimating the situation a while back when we asked whether freedom's just another word for 10 pounds left to lose.

In fact, it turns out the Americans have gotten about 25 pounds heavier (and about an inch taller) since 1960. Here's the skinny on that:

The nation's expanding waistline has been well documented, though Wednesday's report [from the National Center for Health Statistics] is the first to quantify it based on how many pounds the average person is carrying.

The reasons are no surprise: more fast food, more television and less walking around the neighborhood, to name a few. Earlier this year, researchers reported that obesity fueled by poor diet and lack of activity threatens to overtake tobacco use as the leading preventable cause of death….

The trends are the same for children, the report said: Average 10-year-olds weighed about 11 pounds more in 1999-2002 than they did 40 years ago.

Whole thing here.

As Jacob Sullum reported in the August-September issue of Reason, the war on fat is the thin edge of a new attempt to regulate how we live our lives.

Update: Nick Schulz, editor at the invaluable Tech Central Station, points to the happy–and presumably lard-assed–campers over FuturePundit, who claim that natural selection may now be shopping for husky-sized jeans (and genes). Grab a second donut and read about it here.

NEXT: He Got His Picture on the Cover of the Rolling Stone

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  1. Fuck this.

    Did anybody catch the season premier of “Drawn Together” last night?

    Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!

  2. Ha. So can I smoke now?
    At least its not a Twinkie.

  3. Some of these do-gooder airheads should work in the fields for awhile. Maybe picking tomatoes or peppers (it doesn’t much matter what) in the hot, dry sun would clear their sinuses, if not their brains.

  4. I definitely second that thought about “Drawn”, if your gonna wahtch reality TV, well…let it be foul mouth and freaky cartoons.

    I dunno about this though, I technically agree with it, if I were analyzing another species, I would suspect this was a case of past positive enforcements negatively effecting the present as the organism fails to respond to a rapidly changing environment. Which is what I kinda figured diabetes and being overweight was all along. On the other hand, this is not actually news, I remember being in a round table discussion of these effects at least 10 years ago, maybe even more.

  5. The campaigns against tobacco and in favor of seatbelts have already shown us what will happen. Here is the sequence of events:

    1) Gov’t ‘views this problem with alarm’ – already happening

    2) Gov’t launches massive education effort, secure in the knowledge that ‘education is the answer to all social problems’ – this is in the works and will fail the same way as pro-seatbelt and anti-smoking commercials failed.

    3) Gov’t agencies undertake ‘sensible preventative measures [e.g. mandatory labeling, advertising blackouts] – will not work well enough to suit them, but it is an important step.

    4) Purely Symbolic Legislation – designed to ‘make the point’ that this sort of behavior is not in favor. Lack of seatbelts was initially considered not sufficient reason to levy a traffic fine, but was included on the citation. Smoking was initially forbidden only in gov’t buildings

    5) Conceptual shift in description of this behavior from ‘poor individual decision’ to ‘pathology’, ‘addiction’ or ‘vice’. The target population is now called ‘irresponsible’ [a capital crime in some circles!] rather than just foolish or rude. Irresponsible behavior is used to justify sterner measures. “For the Children” or “God Wills It” [depending on which population segment you want to turn off their brains at that time] is ritually invoked. Regulation of menu content in public restaurants initiated in NYC. Massive Medical insurance surcharges for ‘Fatties’ [by now this is the same as ‘Nazi’ or ‘Commie’ in the popular mind]

    6) Criminalization – designation as ‘enemies of the people’ due to their ‘theft of vital, scarce, carefully rationed universal medical care’. Twinkie smuggling from Mexico becomes a billion-dollar industry. Gov?t combines DEA and BATF into new organization TO WAGE ETERNAL WAR AGAINST THE KILLER LIPIDS!

    It would be funnier if it were not so likely.

  6. So we’re getting fatter because we’re getting stupider? NOW it’s passing the smell test!
    And it also suggests manadatory schooling makes us dumber AND fatter. What’s the obesity rate on home-schooled kids?

  7. OldFan,

    7) A prohibition on stress-inducing reading material that may cause, like your post, momentary heart arrhythmia, phobias, and other health related problems, the treatment of which *must* be financed through public funding. Consequently ,it is most cost-effective for the ‘public’, through their government agents, to target the source of the problem with pre-emptive regulation.

  8. Sigh… if only Joe could design us a proper neighborhood, we wouldn’t be so fat and lethargic.

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