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Going through Medical Plan renewal in our company, so living healthy, and the cost of not living healthy, is kind of on my mind.  Then I got the latest issue of Time, which confirms that the unhealthy trend is a lot bigger than what I can influence with Consumerism in my medical plan...

From Time, focused on the supersizing of America:

"We're not only programmed to eat a lot," says Sharman Apt Russell, author of Hunger: AnSuper_size_me_poster Unnatural History, "but to prefer foods that are high in calories." What's more, the better we got at producing food, the easier it became. If you're a settler, you eat a lot of buffalo in part because you need a lot of buffalo — at least after burning so many calories hunting and killing it. But what happens when eating requires no sweat equity at all, when the grocery store is always nearby and always full?

What happens is, you get fat, and that's precisely what we've done. In 1900 the average weight of a college-age male in the U.S. was 133 lb. (60 kg); the average woman was 122 lb. (55 kg). By 2000, men had plumped up to 166 lb. (75 kg) and women to 144 lb. (65 kg). And while the small increase in average height for men (women have remained the same) accounts for a bit of that, our eating habits are clearly responsible for most. Over the past 20 years in particular, we've stuffed ourselves like pâté geese. In 1985 there were only eight states in which more than 10% of the adult population was obese — though the data collection then was admittedly spottier than it is now. By 2006, there were no states left in which the obesity rates were that low, and in 23 states, the number exceeded 25%. Even those figures don't tell the whole story, since they include only full-blown obesity. Overall, about two-thirds of all Americans weigh more than they should."

The first thing I thought of after reading that is what a muscle-bound cat I would have been in college back in 1900.  6"2", 170, and I would have looked HUGE!!!

Second thing I thought of was that not many cats went to college back in 1900.  No Internet either...

Third thing, and the most sobering thought, is that I'm limited in my ability to control the lifestyles of employees via adjustments to our Medical plan.  It's a society thing, and the most progressive of programs are going to struggle against that.  Even with the headline focused on the guy losing 80 pounds eating nothing but McDonalds....

Dave Ulrich said it best in the most recent issue of Workforce when he said the following about his own weight loss - "Those who have not seen me for five or six years almost always remark that I have lost a lot of weight.  They want to know how I did it, and are suprised when I tell them that I have in fact discovered the secrets of losing weight.  With bated breath, they listen to my secrets: Eat less, eat right and exercise more".  As the reality of these "insights" sinks in, they are disappointed".

Everyone's looking for the gimick.  Ulrich's advice sounds simple, but it's hard to implement for so many people.  For a variety of reasons. 

So take your double digit trend increases to your Medical plan, and sit down... There's not a big turnaround in sight....


Evil HR Lady

Ahh yes, we're fatter. However, what we're not asking (and we should), is what is the ideal weight? Average woman and average man in 1900 could be severely underweight. We shouldn't try to get back to some "goal" without evaluating if we were better off then or now.

Tracy Sanders

Having lived overseas and travelled overseas as well, I'd like to bring up fast food as a reason for why folks are larger. In the countries that had the highest amounts of convenience food/fast food restaurants available, the people were larger with more body fat. It was visibly noticeable. In countries where folks didn't have as much convenience food available, they appeared to be slimmer. Just a thought...


Tracy -

I think you're on the money with that analysis. More fast food equals more personal lard - that's the way it goes...

Evil - your point stands when you are looking at the fact that people were smaller back in the day. Here's the ugly truth - all you have to do is look at the obesity trends to know we aren't better off now. BMI, body fat, etc. are way up, and that's what kills you.


Evil HR Lady

BMI is some government defined construct, so I'm not sure I buy that as proof. Yes, morbid obesity causes lots of problems, but being "overweight" according to government standards isn't necessarily "unhealthy."

For the record, I'm 25 pounds overweight right now, because I just had a baby. Before getting pregnant, according to my BMI, I was at a good weight.



I'll give you the concerns about BMI, and just focus to the dramatic increase in the % of those showing up as obese. That increase, along with cardiovascular disease, shows overall health is decaying...

PS - no one's questioning your post-pregnancy BMI. I've got two kids, I'm wayyyyyy too experienced to be anywhere near that conversation... :)

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