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America's Growing Belt Size - Part 1: Adults

Written by Tom Nikkola - Director of Nutrition & Weight Management

In a time when Americans are tightening their belts on spending, the belts around our waistlines continue to get bigger and bigger. The 2009 report F as in Fat was recently released by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The results of this years report, unfortunately, are worse than last year's report. The report contains a lot of information, and is worth reading in its entirety. Today's post will discuss the results related to adults. An additional post will look at how the obesity epidemic is affecting America's youth.

The obesity epidemic affects every one of us. Currently, 67% of the population is either overweight or obese. Two out of three people are at a weight that puts them at risk for health complications. This epidemic puts a strain on the health care system, reduces companies' productivity, and significantly reduces individuals' quality of life. The following are some of the most alarming points from the report:

Health Risks


  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and stroke is the third leading cause
  • One out of four Americans has some form of cardiovascular disease
  • One in three adults has high blood pressure
  • Roughly 20 percent of cancer in women and 15 percent of cancer in men is related to obesity (cancer is the #2 cause of death in the US)
  • Obese individuals are 83 percent more likely, and overweight individuals 40% more likely to develop kidney disease


Financial Costs


  • Obesity costs the nation $75 billion in direct costs and an additional $64 billion in indirect costs each year
  • Estimates say obesity/overweight-related health care costs will double each decade, and by 2030 could range from $860 billion to $956 billion per year
  • Obesity costs employers about $45 billion a year in medical expenses and excessive absenteeism


According to the report, over the past year, adult obesity grew in 23 states and did not decrease in any states. Is turning this around really as easy as moving more and eating less? Maybe, but maybe not. One of the most significant challenges people face is not knowing what to do; it's doing it. Staying away from the high-calorie, nutrition-depleted, processed foods that many people rely on is much easier said than done. There is an appeal from these foods that can almost become addicting. Making a change requires really rethinking what we eat, who we eat it with, and who we listen to about what we should eat.

If you are reading this and thinking, "You know, I'm not doing too bad," then maybe you could be an example for others to follow. Imagine if every member at Life Time Fitness could help guide one or two people to a more Healthy Way of Life. We could really be the beginning of a major change in the health of our nation. Here are some things you could do that cost little to no money:

  • Share the link to the myLT site with your family and friends. Non-members are certainly invited to read the educational content on the site. If you think they could benefit from learning more about nutrition, share this link with them:
  • Attend a Grocery Store Tour. Then invite a friend of yours to go shopping with you and share what you learned with your friend or friends. If you shop in a group, it's less likely anyone will buy the junk food they might otherwise purchase. Maybe this will be a new way to get together with your friends on a regular basis.
  • If you go out to lunch with people at work, offer to drive and take them to the healthiest restaurant in driving distance (or you could just suggest walking if possible).

In the second part of this discussion, we'll take a look at what F as in Fat found about our nation's youth. If possible, take a moment to step aside from your computer and find some way to connect with someone you know, either to get the support you need for your health and fitness goals, or to help someone else get on track toward a more Healthy Way of Life.

Go to: Americ'as Growing Beltsize, Part 2 - America's Youth

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