The Shape of America: PART 1 – TPI Trainer, SouthPark


Introduction; Editors Note:

I found this article that I wrote in 2002, very early into my career as a health and fitness professional. As startling as these statistics were back then, they are even worse now!  It’s now estimated that a little over 42% of American adults are obese, while about 30.7% are overweight. Overall, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults in the United States are overweight or have obesity. Adults between the ages of 40 and 59 are more likely to be obese.

The trend towards roundness keeps moving up.

I thought I’d share it with you, hope you find value in it and if you need help, please reach out.


The Shape of America

Losing weight is a national obsession. In the year 2000, consumers in the United States spent approximately $35 billion on weight-loss products ranging from books and videos to drugs and diet shakes, yet countless studies show that Americans are in worse shape than at any other time in recent history.

This trend has paradoxically occurred while health clubs home exercise equipment and heavily promoted diet plans have proliferated the marketplace. The number of fitness centers in the U.S. has increased to 18,000 since the mid-1980s. Since 1987, club memberships have almost doubled. Despite the glut of so-called “diet foods” and health clubs, the average gut size of Americans continues to grow!

The percentage of overweight Americans has increased by about one-third in the last 20 years. This disturbing trend even afflicts our young people, with more than 25% of today’s children being overweight. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys show math 23% of adults were obese in 1994 compared with 15% in 1980. The percentage of overweight or above Americans is even greater now. “Today about 65% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese,” according to Surge General Richard Carmona, “and more than two-thirds of all adults are trying to keep it off.”

Just what does it mean to be overweight or obese? A body mass index (BMI) between 25 – 30 is considered overweight. Obese is defined as having a body-mass index of 30 or above and is accompanied by serious health consequences. Body-mass index is determined by comparing gross body weight to height. The measurement is dependent on mass, not body fat, so therefore, not an accurate indicator of health and fitness for someone who has a high percentage of muscle on their frame. When applied to sedentary people, however, the formula seems to be quite an accurate gauge of one’s risk of flying before reaching full life expectancy.

Research clearly shows that when more food is on our plates, we eat more. The public health implications are profound, as researchers now point to larger portion sizes as one of the primary reasons our waistlines are expanding. Obese Americans consume more than 20% of their calories from cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, ice cream, sugar, candy, syrup, soda pop, corn chips, and potato chips.

The Statistics

In 1995, the American College of Sports Medicine estimated that as many as 250,000 Americans die prematurely every year because of their sedentary habits. To put this into perspective, five times as many people succumb to the effects of their inactive lifestyles than are killed in automobile accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 60% of Americans are physically inactive, and less than 10% exercise intensely. In spite of all the rhetoric about the need to live an active, healthy lifestyle, few Americans have heeded the call. Most have chosen a life of destructive self-indulgence.