Home Daily Infographic Infographic: The Skinny on Obesity in America

Infographic: The Skinny on Obesity in America

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Thanks to Ashley for sending this in!

EllipticalTrainers.org presents us with this very well-designed infographic detailing the issues – as they see them – with obesity. (My notes come after the graphic… of course.) Check it out below:

A few notes, though:

36.8% of all Blacks are among “America’s Fattest People?” As in… 36.8% of us are obese?

“The fat get fatter: obesity rates increase faster in states that already have a high obesity percentage.”
Gee, I wonder why that is.

They mention the BMI… I guess, because the BMI matters.

“Obesity is the 2nd leading cause of preventable death, just behind smoking.”

Is obesity the cause of the death, or a symptom of the TRUE cause of death? Listing “obesity as a cause of death” next to crap like “more likely to have high blood pressure/high cholesterol/type 1 OR type 2 diabetes (as if the two are interchangeable)” implies that obesity causes those things. The things that bring about THOSE ailments ALSO bring about obesity. Why do we refuse to accept that? Because we’d have to admit that the FOOD is the actual problem? C’mon, man.

“Less than 4% of adults engage in enough physical activity to improve their health, although 40% claim they do…. meanwhile, the rate of Americans undergoing weight-loss surgery has doubled in the last six years.”

So… people are undergoing surgery to lose weight, but aren’t engaging in enough physical activity to maintain it? Which implies that enough of them aren’t modifying their food intake to accommodate their decreased activity levels? Oh.

(There could also be an excessive focus on exercise, here, because this WAS created by someone who promotes and sells elliptical trainers, but… I’m sayin’.)

“Children who live in unsafe neighborhoods are 61% more likely to be obese than kids in safe neighborhoods.”

I wonder why THAT is – perhaps because unsafe neighborhoods are more likely to be neighborhoods without grocery stores… where the inhabitants are shopping out of gas stations to fill their fridges? Uh huh.

“Inactive lifestyle: We pay the price for many of our modern conveniences in physical inactivity: driving instead of walking or riding a bike and spending hours sitting at a desk, on the computer or in front of the television have all contributed to the rise of obesity.”

Hey… that’s the price we pay for convenience. Gotta be aware of the problems, so that you can go out of your way to create a solution. Right?

“Everything is in moderation. Don’t ban your favorite foods from your diet, just eat them less often and in smaller portions.”

I’d change this to say “Don’t ban your favorite foods from your diet, just cook them at home yourself.” ‘Cause goodness knows I’m neverrrrrrrrrrr giving up pizza!

Your thoughts?

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Curlstar January 7, 2011 - 1:55 PM

I was stuck on 36.8% of all Blacks are among America’s Fattest for a while. I just kept reading that over and over again. That is very disturbing, at least to me.

But I’m still trying to figure out how DC is one of the skinniest cities? Guess they didn’t count the population east of the Potomac river, they just counted the “safe” neighborhoods.

Speaking of safe, that particular statistic on safe neighborhoods just said to me – DUH!!! Who in their right mind would willingly put their kids in harms way? Just the parent in me, I guess.

I do agree with you, don’t ban your favorite foods, cook them yourself. I need to follow that advice on the nights that my guys want pizza, because that is certainly an excellent cost to eliminate in my house. Gonna look on your site for the dough and sauce recipe 🙂

Sharon January 7, 2011 - 1:56 PM

I agree with this article, on my weight loss journey changing my habits slowly has been the key. Although your point of cooking the food you love at home vs eating them less often, is where I am at now. For most people starting off, to make food changes, the word “cooking” may scare them off, especially if they aren’t use to it. So I agree with starting off, eating less of what you are eating now, then once you have conquered that, you are more likely to start finding ways to make what you love healthier…. for me, this has help me to keep it up for the long haul….

Eva January 7, 2011 - 2:47 PM

I agree with don’t ban your foods, cook them yourself. I make better peanut butter cookies than any supermarket and that’s just with 3 ingredients too.

Eva January 7, 2011 - 2:48 PM

BTW I just got back from a cruise and YES you CAN LOSE weight on a cruise ship; I do it all the time and no I don’t get seasick.

sexylocs50s May 1, 2011 - 10:00 PM

@ Eva, I agree with your statement that you can go on a cruise and not gain weight, I too keep my weight off when i went on my cruise, and I continued to worked out by using the gym on the ship. When we dock I made sure i walked as much as possible, and I did not eat after dinner. No late nights buffet for me. I live in Baltimore and I was surprised that it made the list, because i see a lot of overweight people, but i also noticed a lot of people trying to change by increasing their vegetables, fruits and exercising. I am not so sure if that stat is correct for Baltimore. I am visiting Philadelphia for two weeks and all I see are people running, and walking. Since I have been here(Philly), I walk blocks and blocks the whole time I have been here. Good Article

BrooklynShoeBabe January 7, 2011 - 3:50 PM

Thank you much for poking holes in these stats as eloquently and as intelligently as you did, because I could only do it with a lot of swear words. Two things in that chart really did bother the hell out of me.

1. “Children who live in unsafe neighborhoods are 61% more likely to be obese than kids in safe neighborhoods.” They write that as though parents purposefully let their kids live in unsafe neighborhoods. (I grew up in a poor and unsafe neighborhood as a kid because that’s all my family could afford! We stayed home all the time when we weren’t in school, not hyperbole, and were weren’t overweight kids. I became overweight because of a medical condition in my early 20s. My brother through a combination of lifestyle & health issues.)

2. “Less than 4% of adults engage in enough physical activity to improve their health, although 40% claim they do…” Maybe they BELIEVE they are engaging in enough physical activity. 30 minutes strolling the mall and 30 minutes speed walking around a track are two different types of physical activity but in most people’s mind it just equals 30 minutes of walking.

Malpha January 7, 2011 - 10:08 PM

A lot of things bother me about this article and most of it can be summed up in that it places all the onus for being overweight on individuals themselves. I’m sorry, but Smoking and Obesity are two completely different kinds of “preventable.” No one’s forcing you to spend ridiculous amounts of money on cigarettes, but people *have* to eat – and they’ll eat whatever is around and doesn’t break the bank.

Like for example, how they present the statistics over who is the heaviest without comment – for example, there’s probably a reason why college graduates are the least heaviest on the scale and it’s not so much because they’re college graduates, so they’re smarter – it’s they’re college graduates, so they have more money. It’s the same with race and age (nevermind that by the time so people get over they have other things to worry about besides exercising – like multiple children, especially women – and that you have less absolute authority of your diet when you’re having to cook to the tastes of people besides yourself). I especially like how they’re all – obesity is linked to things like depression and asthma! And then later say, well, antidepressants can contribute to obesity. Orly And maybe asthma is holding some back from exercise? Hmmmm.

The other thing is that “losing weight is so simple” schtick. Eat less! Exercise more! If losing weight were so honest to goodness simple, people wouldn’t be on blogs like this. I wouldn’t be doing Zumba 5 nights a week, trying to edit my diet and count calories as best as possible while coping with low blood pressure and iron-deficiency that zaps my energy. Which is another thing. My BMI is 31, which lands right at obese. But my blood pressure? Low. Sugar? Normal. Hemoglobin? Low. Cholesterol. On the high end, but that’s something I inherited from my mother (who spent much of her pregnancy with me at 99lbs, on 5 iron pills a day, and still having high cholesterol). My aunt has high cholesterol and she’s close to the 18 end of the BMI scale, especially after losing about 15 pounds due to….cancer! Yeah, skinny people who eat gluten-free food get that, too. In the liver, no less! So whatever to this crap about how all these problems will just magically go away if you “simply” stop stuffing your face and get off the couch.

I just roll my eyes at crap like this that basically exists to shame the overweight and make them feel like crap because being overweight is entirely their fault, especially since it’s so easy not to be.

Erika January 7, 2011 - 10:33 PM


Lorrie February 1, 2011 - 4:58 PM

Malpha pleeeease REQUIRE your doctor to test your TSH levels in your blood AND and have them do a uteral ultrasound for fibroids- if you have not already. African American women are known to have higher instances of hypothyroidism and fibroids but doctors do not agressively seek to test and treat for this unless you are persistent. Your high cholesterol could be a sign that you have hypothyroidism which can cause a spike in cholesterol no matter what your diet and exercise regime – this is the only thing that caused the doctor to check my TSH levels because I had never had any cholesterol problems until I had complications with my fibroids. They did not share this information with me until I questioned them fiercely because I did the research on my own, they told me that when hypothyroidism causes that spike in the cholesterol that no matter what medication you take if you dont treat the hypothyroidsim the cholesterol will persist. The doctors also swear that these hormonal issues are completely unrelated but I choose to believe diffrently. Anemia-low iron can be related to hormonal/fibroid issues that exist causing your metabolism to slow down. The slowing of the metabolism causes a host of other issues. I had fibroids and I had no energy for anything I was downing liquid iron supplements like orange juice and found it difficult to participate in aerobics class – it was like my limbs didnt want to do the work and I thought it was just because I was overweight but no anemia caused lethargy. My mother was not diagnosed with hypothyrodism until two years ago and she is 63 years old and was fighting her weight for years. Also as an added note, I wanted you to know that as a result of my fibroids my doctor suggested I take some hormonal drugs to suppress the heavy bleeding, that drug was Depovera. This drug the doctor warned caused weight gain! I took it for two treatments (6 months) and stopped it immediately. The doctor told me the drug takes up to 1 year to completely leave your system. I personally would like an investigative research done to isolate and pinpoint why the African American women seem to have this problem more than any other race when skin color accounts for only .01% difference from any other human being! The question was raised in another blog that access to care and approach to treatment and percieved biases and assumptions seems to block equal care and treatment for black women. Well consider this: what if what has cause such a big problem for us is simply preventative care? Hypothetically: What if because our skin is darker we lack enough vitamin D for our bodies to function properly and thus later over time causing hormonal issues that run rampant?? Only one doctor actually tested my Vitamin D levels and said it was seriously low. I wonder how long it had been so low? Its like a snowball, after the ball gets rolling its hard to stop it and then more problems arise from the others. One week over 5 years ago I was sick for a week with some sort of infection, I was laying in bed and couldnt move, I finally dragged myself to the emergency clinic for treatment and the doctor noticed my thyroid was enlarged, from there I was sent for Xrays had a biopsy and a lobectomy. I had never had an enlarged thyroid and they never tried or attempt or knew what caused it. My research indicated that sickness, stress and viruses could contribute to this condition. It was not hereditary necessarily and although there is no formula to calculate how someone gets benign cells to grow anywhere in the body what we do know is that balanced healthy living not just with food but with environment and a good physical routine helps prevent illnesses and conditions that can lead to more serious complications. Why are we not having these conversations??

Rooo August 14, 2012 - 4:39 PM

Kudos to you — both for being insistent with your doc (because even when they don’t know everything, some of them sure do like to pretend they do) and for bringing us the knowledge.

Streetz January 9, 2011 - 11:20 AM

The thing about statistics is they can be presented in 5 different ways to get 5 diferent reactions or accentuate 5 different points. You rarely see explanations or deep analysis behind the numbers, unless its in presentation form.

I definitely like the analysis and “hole poking” in the stats too. Great thinking! Also, a commentor noted that things like high cholesterol can be hereditary and not linked to obesity, which is true. I also think BMI is B.S. but we’ve had that talk many times here. Either way, I’d like to see more case studies on how healthy eating or limiting fatty foods over time can help/show results.

Ameer (@ameercarter) January 19, 2011 - 8:02 PM

For me, I’d say that in some cases, there are those who live a life that is sedentary and not active and that they are obese because of it. Then there are those who are obese and overweight because of a combination of lifestyle choices and medical complications and those with just medical complications.

For those who live sedentary lifestyles and may not have medical problems, I believe that this infographic is predominately targeted toward them. I could be wrong though.

I feel that to fully combat obesity, we must change the mindset of those who make poor lifestyle decisions, challenge the education of health in schools, challenge the current format of food distribution in schools, and corporate buildings, and establish local healthy food markets and cooking workshops for those who are looking to create a healthy meal quickly and without breaking the bank.

But we must take it a step at a time.

With that said, if you like to indulge and consume more calories than normal, go ahead. But remember to exercise for 30 minutes after you’ve eaten over a 30 minute period. The exercise negates the effects that over consumption of calories create thus you have not only enjoyed your food, but you are developing a great habit of exercise that if done correctly (that means consulting your doctor, personal trainer- preferably both if you have them) will transcend into an embedded piece of your life and could prevent obesity and being overweight.

Just my two cents.

(Oh thanks for this infographic anyway, I can use some of this as apart of my senior project for graduation and my stat project.)

Lorrie February 1, 2011 - 4:22 PM

I think they need to expound further on Health Conditions and Other Factors waaaaay more. Obesity is a symptom not the cause. The statistical genuises dont want to delve into topics that would actually cause them to make policy changes, such as fair zoning practices, neighborhood accessiblity and transportation alternatives. Thats all I have to say about that! Just another assessment with a sound alarm screaming what the problem is with no solutions. Oh news flash, blacks are always a problem. Didnt you know that??

Erika February 1, 2011 - 5:23 PM

“Fair zoning practices”

…care to elaborate?

Lorrie February 2, 2011 - 7:21 PM

When I say “zoning” I am referring to district lines such as: water districts, park districts, special districts, voting districts and school districts. City ordinances regulate what types of living spaces, dwellings, business and industry there can be within the city and where they can be located. This can include where a new apartment complex is located, a grocery store, liquor stores, Xrated shops, massage parlors, tattoo shops, where a new gated community would be, where a new factory could be (usually away from residential properties except in the case of poor communities) and what school your child would attend – its all based upon where you live. The money to pay to maintain the streets, schools and pay for other services come from taxes whether it be sales taxes, property taxes or fees for service. These revenue streams that are collected do not usually go back into the poor communities they are collected from them but many times go into special districts. Some of these districts are called mello roos districts. Another type of district can be created through redevelopment and special project zones are identified in “blighted” urban areas in order to justify economic development. These projects are very beneficial however do not assist residents directly. Although it helps the general community indirectly and could be a useful tool in rebuilding affordable and public housing this tool is vital to urban communities but needs oversight. Zoning and district lines determine where special districts are created for things such as parks and water and what regional block qualifies for a voting district for our state and congressional representatives and again where your child can go to school. All these things have the ability to create a poor living environment for low income urban youth: Few/no parks that are maintained, low performing schools with little funding, no economic development in urban food deserts to bring in food retail chains that could provide fresh healthier options and an imbalanced community that doesn’t have an even number of low income, moderate income and upper income residents. The city council votes on these issues. Essentially, all the poor, disadvantage, disenfranchised and marginalized communities are lumped together. Many times these communities are located near an industrial area with pollutants known to cause cancer and asthma. These are the topics the industry does not want to touch. This is where the real solutions lie, this is why they call Obama names because he understands the root of the poverty problem and seeks to dismantle a free market run rampant. I believe that sometimes unfair ordinances, zones and districts create a form of unfair institutionalized socialism because many opportunities to healthcare, education and healthy living is directly related to where you live and the resources available to you in that community in your formative years. The habits created in childhood many times are maintained into adulthood and thus a vicious and perpetual cycle of unhealthy living.

kathy September 30, 2012 - 1:16 AM

i am glad you mentioned about giving up your favorite food, I agree that we should cook them at home, but my question now becomes what if u want to go out for dinner to have real food, I feel like the selections are so few that it makes me wanna say forget it, go for it, it’s only one day. I have not acted on this impulse but was very close to it. what should one do

kami January 1, 2013 - 8:40 AM

Of course lifestyle plays a big role but I do believe health is important like making sure you have enough of your nutrients for your body to function. Vitamin D is important for your immune system, cells to function, metabolism and other things. During my teenage years I attended a camp for fore obese girls where alot of them were on medicine for depression, fibroids, birth control and etc. Many of the medicines they took caused weight gain. It does not help when the American food industry is selling junk food ( genetically modified foods and pump harmones, pesticides and antibiotic in foods) these foods are cheaper than the healthier counterparts. Last year, I found out I was low on Vitamin D , during that time I was exercising six days a week and eating low calorie and was gaining weight. Now I am taking vitamin d and doing hot yoga , I am seeing more results.

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