Obesity: the West pays a hefty price
Monday 17 June 1996
In the UK, 16 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men are technically obese, but figures are much higher in the US, where just under a third of the population is classified as obese. In the States, this is defined by a BMI of more than 27.8 for men and 27.3 for women.
While lack of physical exercise and consumption of high-calorie foods are the basic causes, could subtle cultural differences account for the higher US figure? "There is no evidence to suggest Americans are eating more calories, or that they are less active than we are, and the average BMI for people in the US and UK is about the same," says Tim Gill, director of the Post-Graduate Nutrition and Dietetic Centre at the Rowatt Institute in Aberdeen. "The main difference is that they are probably more devoted to the car and the TV, though we can't be far behind in the UK. The more extreme cases of obesity tend to be in the US - as well as the more extreme cases of thinness."
The average daily calorie requirement is 2,500 for men and 1,900 for women, but the US produces 3,700 each day for each individual. It is ironic, then, that the eventual effect of this over-abundance is to drain Western health services of cash. According to a 1994 report by the Office of Health Economics, it costs the UK pounds 30m to treat obesity alone and another pounds 165.5m through strokes, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancers. In the US, obesity was estimated to have cost the health service nearly $70bn in 1990, and, as the size acceptance movement takes off over there, massive sums are currently being awarded in damages to victims of "sizeism". A 23-stone woman recently won $100,000 after being turned down for a nursing- home job - on the grounds that she could not bend over.
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
Life & Style blogs
The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
Microsoft's Cortana (the rival to Apple's Siri) leaked online
Eating too much meat and eggs is ‘just as bad as smoking’, claim scientists
'It's brusquely intimate': A bereaved daughter tackles the task of emptying her father's flat
Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 First clip of Outkast's Andre 3000 in Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side emerges
£1200 per month: Inspiring Interns: Our client is one of Europes leading mobi...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Founded in 2008 by two Chinese tech entre...
£12000 - £18000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a high-end niche t...
£22000 - £25000 per annum, Benefits: Subsidised gym membership, 25 days holiday...