I have been noticing there are a lot of fat people in this country. Sure, I knew this before intellectually, but it’s caught my attention lately because it seems like I am always squeezing myself into a Metro seat next to some really fat person, which I have to do carefully to avoid sitting on the part of them that oozes onto the seat I want to sit in. Having to do this so often got me wondering just how many fat people there are in this country, so I did some internet research and found government statistics on the subject.
The answer: a whole fucking lot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 66.5% of adult Americans are overweight. Even worse, half of those are classified as “obese.” If you do the math, that means 1 in 3 of my fellow Americans are obese.
How fat is “obese”? Well, it seems “obese” has some official clinical definition that means “not just fat, but really big ass fat.” According to a Body Mass Index (BMI) table, a girl who is 5’4 (my girl’s height) would have a “healthy weight” if she were between 110 and 140 pounds. She would be considered “overweight” if she were between 146 and 179 pounds. And this little 5’4 girl would be considered “obese” if she were between 175 and 197 pounds.
That’s pretty damn big. I’m not talking about a few extra pounds here. I am not picking on people who stay in shape but are not fitness model perfect. And yes, before The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance hunts me down, I understand that there are people who suffer from medical conditions they can’t control that make them gain weight. And yes, there are people who have genetics that hardwire them to be fat no matter what they do. My true sympathy goes out to these people.
But what about all of these obese people who could do something about it if they wanted to? It’s not like people don’t know what makes them fat or don’t understand how to be thin. Who living in the midst of the Information Age still doesn’t know that a diet consisting of hot dogs and Ben & Jerrys will make them fat? Ok, maybe there are a few moonshine-selling hillbilly families living in Appalachia who never got the message, but I am convinced that everyone else knows that a sensible diet and exercise are the answer.
If everyone knows how to be thin, why isn’t everyone thin already? After all, we live in a vain, image-conscious society. We Americans spend countless billions every year on clothing, make up and accessories to make us look more attractive (if I were not feeling lazy I would look up even more statistics on consumer spending in these areas). We literally worship the most beautiful people in our society – movie actors, TV stars, fashion models, and turn them into modern day royalty. Our culture is obsessed with physical appearance, so why isn’t the crappy feeling obese people get when they look in a mirror enough motivation for them?
Moreover, it’s well established that we humans select our mates based upon physical characteristics which speak to one’s fitness for producing healthy offspring. In plain English: slender people get laid. I don’t think you would be shocked if I told you the best looking men prefer to date women who are slender. We also know the best looking women usually date men who are somewhere between yoga toned and bodybuilder massive. If the desire for the sex explains a great deal of human behavior, why isn’t the basic need to have sex with hotties enough motivation for people to stay in shape?
So who can explain this to me? Obese people already know everything they need to know to be thin. When obese people look in the mirror, they receive the instant feedback of disliking what they see. If obese people want to mate with a member of the opposite sex, they live a life with fewer, less attractive mating partners at their disposal. So WHY are they still so fat??