July 17th, 2013
07:21 AM ET

U.S. no longer heaviest of heavyweights

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The United States got some good news this past week – it is no longer the most obese developed nation in the world, according to the U.N. Mexico is now the heavyweight champion of the industrialized world.

As countries develop, one unfortunate side effect is that their people also grow fatter. Look at the rich Gulf states. The U.N.’s latest numbers have 42.8 percent of Kuwait's adult population obese. That's compared with 31.8 percent in the U.S., 35.2 percent in Saudi Arabia, and 33.1 percent in Qatar. And with Ramadan starting this past week and the fasting that comes with it, amazingly the problem only gets worse. Qataris' grocery bills are said to double during Ramadan as people fast but then gorge during breakfast.

So Qatar has decided to do something about the problem. The solution – a campaign to get its people moving. At least 10,000 steps a day. But how to do that in a country where summer temperatures top 120 degrees Fahrenheit? Well, walk in air-conditioned malls. They’ve set out courses with maps that tell you how far you've traveled, all in shopping malls.

Now, here's the bad news. We've tried this in America, and obviously it hasn't worked.

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soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. stephen (clt)

    the U.S is not better with the obesity problem...just that the other country is catching up.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:56 am | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    How can people allow themselves to get so fat? It must be a choice out of ignorance. Nobody forces them to do so!

    July 18, 2013 at 9:06 am | Reply
    • Glauber

      The crappiest food is also the cheapest. You can buy a 10-lb. bag of breaded chicken pieces for less than $20. Vegetables cost too much for poorer populations, but cheap fatty meats and starches are relatively cheap, so poor families eat crap. Even in public schools the school lunches are made up of throwaway surplus meats, plus starches and fat. It seems counter-intuitive, but you can very easily get fatter precisely because you don't have the money to eat better. I imagine that in Mexico, the advent of WalMart and other big box retailers bringing cheap, bad food at low cost has been part of what's helped Mexico catch up to the U.S.

      July 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Reply
      • krehator

        Stop you are making too much sense.

        July 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
      • Steve

        Truth. Not to mention the crap is all way over processed. Most of the food you find in stores have been striped of useful nutrition.

        July 21, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
      • usamare

        large burrito = 700 calories = $3, two cheese burgers = 600-700 calories = $2-$3, grilled chicken salad = 330 calories = $5. Figuring one fast food meal per day, it's $60/month cheaper to be fat.

        July 21, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
      • Jm25

        Uh, go to any supermarket, fruits and vegetables are the cheapest things. Its a matter of taste, fat=flavor, therefore people will take a fatty meal over bland vegetable. They plump you up with food (economically smart), then you get too fat and need medicine (economically smart again). Its a cash breeding groud.

        July 26, 2013 at 5:51 am |
      • Lars

        You're not looking at economically sensible nutrition. Dried beans are cheaper than your "chicken pieces" and contain fiber and protein that make them filling and nutritious. Eggs are healthy in moderation and less expensive per serving than your nuggets as well. Oatmeal–not glamorous, but high fiber and cheaper than pop-tarts or cheerios. Potatoes–a whole food loaded with nutrients, cost less per pound than fatty, salty tater-tots, but nobody wants them. Carrots–a dollar a pound or less. Peanut butter–healthy in moderation and not expensive. Brown Rice - high fiber whole grain–under a dollar a pound and a pound will make many meals. Chicken leg-quarters, under a dollar a pound. Fruit varies with the season, but something is always on sale for a dollar a pound or less. All of these things can be had for less than bologna and spaghetti. The "expensive to eat well" excuse is a big lie that typically emanates from people who haven't disciplined themselves to do it.

        July 28, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
      • dunestrider

        People can show how it is actually cheaper to eat healthier (e.g., buying vegetables and dried beans at a grocery vs. fast food). But it takes effort to prepare that healthy food. People are lazy as well as poor. The obese are the same ones that sit on their behinds watch Judge Judy instead of exercising.

        August 11, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • krehator

      I wonder what flaws you have. Typically people who point fingers at others are simply trying to shift attention away from their own problems.

      July 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  3. headinhome7

    They`re on U.S. Foodstamps!!

    July 18, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Reply
  4. vistar hornbill

    Nevertheless, many American adults (65%?) are still grotesquely obese. And to understand that obesity level, you have to come from a city where a very obese person becomes an obvious spectacle to everyone around him.

    July 18, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  5. OhPlease

    Ok... "How to lie with statistics 101".... The obesity in North America is on a whole different scale. Im sorry, but nowhere else in the world will you see people that take up three seats on the bus, EVERYDAY. In Italy, I see maybe on, or two... over the span of 1 or 2 weeks... And they are usualy American XD

    July 19, 2013 at 3:33 am | Reply
  6. karen14217

    Why is this "good news" as the article says? Our obesity problem hasn't gotten any less (and I am obese), other countries have simply surpassed us. It is good news that other countries have the same problem as we do, only more so???

    July 19, 2013 at 6:19 am | Reply
  7. Marco Hsiao

    East Asian foods are better for preventing obesity.

    July 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  8. Marco Hsiao

    Chopsticks are used in East Asian, so their eating is slower and is better for preventing obesity. On the other hand, Hamburger is often eaten too fast.

    July 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  9. Gonzo

    Well, Mexico is 1st on something – at least. I know. I stayed at my parents house, on Monday nights, for a couple of months. They have some Spanish channel package. I would see some Mexican films. A lot of them were the Narco movies. I noticed that the earlier ones from 1990's the curves on the women were decent. Then I would notice the more recent ones of the past few years, the people in them were flat out FAT – even the girls that the Narco guys lusted after were grossly over weight. Wow. That is a heavy price to pay for economic progress.

    July 20, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  10. Marco Hsiao

    Mexican should reduce weight; obesity is not good for health.

    July 21, 2013 at 4:19 am | Reply
  11. Steve

    Sorry for the crappy processed food Mexico. Its Americas gift to the world...

    July 21, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Reply
    • vistar hornbill

      These popular American made products are causing millions of premature deaths around the world:

      Burger King
      Pepsi Cola
      Coca Cola
      Kentucky Fried Chicken
      Kenny Rogers and such restaurants
      Pizza Hut

      Its a long list. ... Im just naming a few of hem.

      July 22, 2013 at 12:50 am | Reply
  12. lance

    americans are lazy thats why we allow immigrants to work are farm fields why lazy azzes collect 2 years of on going unemployment thank your liberals and obama for that.

    July 21, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Reply
    • repubelicker

      I think it's a safe bet that most farmers that hire these immigrants (illegal or otherwise) are republican, and even if its not most it's still a very large chunk. They come here due to the demand that republican farmers' illegal activities cause.

      July 25, 2013 at 9:13 am | Reply
  13. vistar hornbill

    I wish I was a doctor specialising in helping diabetic people, because Diabetes is going to become the scourge of the American society Almost all severely obese people will eventually become diabetic if they have not prematurely died of heart attacks.

    July 22, 2013 at 12:41 am | Reply
  14. larry

    From the story I get "We are the 2nd most fattest". Am I supposed to proud of that fact?

    July 22, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  15. aurelius

    That's about as insulting as it gets.

    July 25, 2013 at 2:01 am | Reply
  16. Rick McDaniel

    Give America time........with all the unemployed, sitting in front of the TV eating.........we will reclaim the lead promptly.

    July 25, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  17. bruce

    We need more fast food in China so they catch up!!!!!

    July 25, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  18. memem

    All the "in shape" mexicans have hopped the fence, leaving the lardasses behind!

    July 26, 2013 at 11:03 am | Reply
  19. jt

    Obesity isn't just about diet, its also inherited or at least the propensity to be obese. Additionally, no matter what you eat if people would find the time, turn of the T.V, or put down that game controller and work to get at least 45 minutes of aerobic exercise daily, they would not be obese, and would have the added benefit of being more healthy. Obesity is really a matter of choice, we make active choices every day for what we eat, and what we do as our daily routine. If we make healthy choices, we won't be obese. Plain and simple.

    July 27, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  20. Voltairasmus

    Scientifically, the problem is almost solved, since about 2004. The combination of a chronic overdose of fat and sugar destroys the feedback system in the brain that regulates the feeling of satiation. In rat brains, the damages can be shown. Well, the insight that smoking causes cancer dates from the early fifties and general skepticism ('rats are not humans!!') inhibited the general popular acceptation until the nineties. For obesity, this means that not earlier than in about 2044, we will have food regulation laws similar to the current smoking rules. If you compute the medical costs, this is a major, global disaster.

    July 28, 2013 at 5:35 am | Reply
  21. Ted Ward

    The problem with malls...food court!

    July 28, 2013 at 6:59 am | Reply
  22. Ted Ward

    The global obesity epidemic is great for peace. Fat people don't fit into tanks and fighter planes, nor are they very inclined to bend over and pick up anything off the ground like an artillery shell or crate of ammunition. Not to mention feeding an amy of fatties would be a logistical impossibility. Plus wars often start during the hot summer months, but fatsos are too busy sweating just sitting in front of the AC vents to even budge.

    July 28, 2013 at 7:10 am | Reply
  23. Dave

    This is the solution to our Social Security problem, we can't afford for people to be alive into their 90s anymore

    July 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  24. realfuture2010

    half of the US does not have food and no jobs it is not surprising they are getting like the third world

    July 29, 2013 at 3:58 am | Reply

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