The Obese American Future

Monday, May 14, 2012

A study predicts 42 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030. (Tony Alter/flickr)

A new study predicts that 42 percent of American adults will be obese — a category beyond overweight — by the year 2030.

Keith Davis is working to accommodate America's bigger, more obese future. He's the owner and operator of Goliath Coffins, a company that makes caskets for the morbidly obese. Jen Petersen is an urban sociologist and Principal of Petersen consulting. She worked on the Living Streets Project in Los Angeles which was focused on improving public health through city planning.





Keith Davis and Jen Petersen

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [12]


Cheap unhealthy food malnourishes people and leads to obesity..unless high activity levels are maintained, which is impossible with a malnourished body. It creates a cycle. Rice and beans are cheap too, and rank high on the list of healthy foods. Not to say they won't make you fat if you eat enough of them. Discount supermarkets make fruits and vegetables inexpensive as well. Gardening (or community gardens) are another option for some people. Anything can make us fat, but it is the lack of nutrients in processed foods that is the enemy. We have viable choices. Eating healthy does not have to empty our wallets.

Jun. 13 2012 09:46 AM
Paul Taslimi from Medford, MA

There is now quite excellent evidence that reducing the social safety net (SSN) is a key contributor to unhealthy eating. Yet every time there is a fiscal crisis we opt to cut the SSN. Never giving any thought to long term cost to all of us in terms of healthcare and morbidity for those who become obese. The truth is that as a society we have no long term plan for anything. No long term plan for healthcare, no long term plan for energy, no long term plan for how we interact with the planet and the list goes on. For instance there is no longer any reason to continue agricultural subsidies for corn. Much of it is produced by industrial conglomerates that should not get it. Yet by doing it we subsidize fast food burgers (a buck for a burger) and the incorporation of high fructose corn syrup into much of what we eat. The result: diabetes, obesity and colon cancer. Unfortunately our children will pay dearly for the price of our stupidity.

May. 15 2012 07:10 AM
Terri from Oklahoma

I was really upset by the guest you had on today.. By making things less accessible for people who are overweight, you are going to push them even further from society and make the problem worse.. What happened to Universal Design.. Many parks have stairs, what is wrong with a bench here and there? If it accommodates and the obese, the elderly and those with disabilities.. what is so bad about that??

May. 14 2012 08:07 PM
anna from new york

No, it isn't and you are distracting. Why don't you take a trip to some other countries and see other people? You know that there are other nations, don't you?

May. 14 2012 04:28 PM
Haley from Detroit, MI

CAN WE PLEASE START DISCUSSING THE OTHER SIDE TO THIS SO-CALLED "OBESITY" CRISIS? Like, for instance, the possibility that it is mostly fabricated?

"Obesity prevalence shows little change over the past 12 years, although the data are consistent with the possibility of slight increases. In 2009-2010, the prevalence of obesity was 35.5% among adult men and 35.8% among adult women, with no significant change compared with 2003-2008."

Another resource dedicated to producing data-based arguments against this and other claims stemming from the rise of HBO's Weight of the Nation.

"ASDAH is concerned that instead, we may be seeing one of the most misleading and misguided public health campaigns – ever."

I would love to hear Dr. Linda Bacon, leader of the Health at Every Size Movement, on the Take Away. This issue has become far too one-dimensional. Let's stop the food-shaming and body-blaming and start considering that this "crisis" isn't all it's cracked up to be.

May. 14 2012 01:21 PM
William from RI

This segment ignored (what I believe is) the underlying cause of the current obesity epidemic. Cheap food makes you fat. Metabolic disorders aside,the current combination of hard times and stress from all sides drives a need for overeating. Combine that with limited means and real fear of the future and you get overweight people. The guests on this segment need to come down from their lofty perch in the clouds. People don't choose to be unemployed. They don't choose to be homeless. They don't choose to be sick. And they don't choose to be fat.

May. 14 2012 12:48 PM
Angel from Miami, FL

High Fructose Corn Syrup. It's not the sole culprit but represents all of the chemical compounds we've added to our foods to make them laster longer or "taste better". These compounds weren't thoroughly tested to see what effects it would have on the human body. The test mice are the customers.

The food companies say HFCS and similar additives have no more calories than the natural ingredients they substitute. But calories isn't what's modifying our bodies. The sulfuric acid and other industrial chemicals are affecting our more complex body functions. These are altering our bodies in a bad way.

May. 14 2012 09:48 AM
anna from new york

I know very little about insulin, but I know a lot about other things.
Thirty years another change took place - dismantling of New Deal in the US and Thatcherism - both led to a greater enslavement of the population. When one in constant fear of being homeless, the last thing in his mind is the proper diet. I resent the constant distracting bubbling of nutritionists without any understanding of societies. Spirits are fine, but solid structures protecting the vulnerable from the abuses of the ruthless are even finer.

May. 14 2012 08:56 AM
Tuckertues from NYC

Both Anna and Brenda make excellent points. I am a radical moderate when it comes to politics and social issues.

For example I would not advocate a complete change over to a model based on the raw food movement but it can be one part. This being said we need a serious re-think on how our work life (ie: the fear of leaving our desks) and food availability (it is cheaper to buy processed food and fresh food is very hard to come by in many communities). Would we be scrapping over health care reform with such vitriol if, as a nation, we were healthier?

While I am only slightly over weight (165 @ 5'6") my knees and lower back were a wreck until i ditched the chair and switched to a standing laptop arm. In five days my knees feel better, I am more alert and do not crash at 9pm. Small changes add to big results.

May. 14 2012 08:56 AM
AnnaS from UK

The food was changed in the USA, UK and Australia 30 years ago when dangerous food chemicals from the USA was allowed into Europe. The food today causes stubborn insulin If you have stubborn insulin you hold fat and have a hard time losing weight. You can eat very little and the weight still does not come off. Stubborn insulin will hold fat and diets won’t work. When researchers used a specialized diabetes diet on overweight people all lost weight even those who did not have diabetes.


May. 14 2012 08:47 AM
BrendaTNYC from New York City

It's time to put our money where our mouth is (sorry for that.) Enough wasted government money on redesigning pyramids and making noise about fitness. It's time to take the Department of Agriculture to the wood shed. There is no excuse for not defining our labeling laws to exclude food-like products. Years ago we did this with juice (which is how we now have "drink') There is a huge amount of money at stake. At some point we need to be honest about our priorities.

May. 14 2012 08:24 AM
anna from new york

I am really impressed by Mr. Davis. Unlike American illiterate (or just dishonest) "professors," unlike first ladies who distract with bubbling about "wellness," he understand well that obesity is caused by societal problems. Among other things, is there any reason for a human being to eat his/her lunch at desk (and in absolute terror - terror of losing his job, health care, home etc.)?
It's time to bring civilization (civilized work hours, vacations, protections for employees, etc.) to America.
Thank you inviting Mr. Davis.

May. 14 2012 07:07 AM

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