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Yes Americans are Gigantic But It Is Not Totally Their Fault

By       Message Martha Rosenberg     Permalink
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Big Pharma, Big Ag and Big Chem help to make us fat

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Americans have never been fatter
(Image by Martha Rosenberg)
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If you think Americans are ballooning out you are right. The average American man today weights 194 pounds and the average woman 165 pounds which is at least 24 pounds more than they weighed in 1960. Everything from airline seats to coffins to hospital operating tables has been made bigger to accommodate our growing size.

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Many are in denial. Women who think they are a size 4 or 2 (or a size 0) thanks to vanity sizing would be shocked to discover they can barely fit into a size 8 circa1982 if they found it in a vintage clothing shop. (It is no secret why the popular "5, 7, 9" shops went out of business decades ago.)

Many have observed that on Parents Day at colleges and universities, most daughters outweigh their moms by 20 or more pounds. Why? Their mom grew up when the standard was, well, the size 8 circa 1982 in the vintage clothing store! Today, if your friends are thirty pounds overweight and you are twenty, you might feel "thin."

But vanity sizing--and stretchy and low-rider clothing that forgives the waist--are only partially responsible for U.S. obesity. The family meal where we learned portion control and moderation has been replaced by the solitary meal where anything goes. There's a myriad of food "opportunities" that did not once exist like snacks at the hardware store, office supply store, car wash, bank, bookstore and of course the hotel room minibar. All you can eat food bars and free refills don't help. And, health experts say the sleep deprivation that afflicts so many Americans today is also a factor.

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While eating too much--and getting enough sleep--is under our control, sadly some American obesity comes from harmful food and environmental factors that did not exist until the last decade or two.

U.S. use of antibiotics, hormones, ractopamine and other growth producers in animals has so increased, much of our meat is banned in the EU and Asia and many ask why the animal drugs would not have the same effects on humans. Denmark researchers found babies given antibiotics within six months of birth were more likely to be overweight by the age of 7. A 2010study in Public Health Nutrition of 3,000 girls found that girls who ate eight portions of meat a week by age three, and 12 portions of meat a week by age seven were likely to experience early puberty. (Early puberty causes girls many problems and is caused by obesity itself.) "Overuse of antibiotics could be fuelling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma," wrote microbiologist Martin Blaser in the journal Nature.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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