It’s fair to point out that BMI is a flawed measure. It’s a metric devised in the 1800s, and it fails to take into account things like muscle mass. That means some athletes, who are otherwise healthy, can be registered as obese.
In any case, no one is debating that being obese is extremely bad for your health. From higher incidences of strokes, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and several types of cancer, being obese is something bets avoid – so why is it so unusually prevalent in the US?
Vox point out that becoming obese in the Land of the Free is, well, incredibly easy. Portions sizes have dramatically increased in a short space of time; breakfast is often a form of dessert. The sugar industry has been spreading disinformation about its products for decades.
Consequently, the number of obese men, women, and children in the US are increasing pretty much year-on-year. Far from being just a medical burden, it’s creating a hefty bill: One that the CDC peg as $147 billion per year (as of 2008), about half the cost of 2017’s record-breaking year of destructive natural disasters.
Yes, the opioid epidemic is a blight too, and one that is also contributing to this reported lack of improvement in mortality rates. Between heroin and prescription painkillers, it’s estimated that at least 150 people die per day of such overdoses, which adds up to around 59,000 a year.
As studies like this show, though, there’s a long way to go with obesity too. It’s a killer, worse than many other causes of mortality- and the solution isn't going to be a simple, straightforward fix.
"High taxes on sugared beverages is a start, more intensive physical education classes in schools, better facilities for physical activities at the workplace may have some marginal effect," lead author Samuel Preston, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, told IFLScience.
"My own guess is that the most successful weapon will ultimately prove to be pharmacological."