It’s official — U.S. is fattest nation

Obesity has found a new nemesis.  Beware the OECD.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was formed five decades ago in Paris, France.  The United States is one of 33 nations belonging to this international body; but just what the OECD does that benefits or even affects the average American has, until now, been difficult to say.  Its mission is high-sounding enough, to be sure; to “bring together the governments of countries committed to democracy and the market economy .  .  .  to raise living standards, maintain financial stability,” and other entirely laudable goals.

To this exciting list of goals can now be added another – to save the world from obesity; to shrink an overweight industrialized world; to strike a blow for skinniness!  Yes, the OECD has entered the fray to battle obesity everywhere, but in the United States especially.

The new anti-obesity manifesto is laid out in a recently-published study by the OECD, entitled “Obesity and the Economics of Prevention – Fit Not Fat.”  The opus will provide grist for discussions at an international conference of health ministers in Paris later this week. And Uncle Sam will likely come under withering caloric fire. 

The reason the U.S. will be the brunt of many OECD jokes this week is that, according to the authors of the obesity study, America can lay claim to the dubious honor of being the fattest nation around; more obese, even, than our ancestral home, the United Kingdom, and far pudgier than our primary economic adversaries on the world stage – China, Russia, India, Germany, Japan and Brazil.  Interestingly, our neighbor to the south – Mexico – is only slightly less obese as a nation than we are; so its citizens apparently are not rushing across our border simply to gain weight.

An almost certain champion of the OECD study will be Michelle Obama, who is leading the all-American calories crusade from her pulpit as First Lady.  It is also likely the OECD missive will be made required reading for top civilian and military officials at the Pentagon, where a recent study, “Mission:  Readiness,” concluded that obesity has become a serious national security concern.  This particular study was prepared by a group of retired flag-grade officers, and painted a dim picture of America’s youth, because of soaring rates of obesity.

Of course, most advocates for a healthier populace, from the First Lady to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, turn to government to pull our fat out of the fire, so to speak.  Congress is under increasing pressure to pass a multi-billion dollar “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” to set new federal benchmarks for thinner kids and throw beau coup of dollars to help solve the problem.  Mayor Bloomberg’s solution is less costly to New York’s taxpayers, but far more draconian; he believes in simply passing laws outlawing foods or ingredients he deems unhealthy.

Farmers and producers of vegetables, which contribute little if any to the “obesity epidemic” against which all these national and international forces are arrayed, just can’t seem to get much traction as an alternative to the fattier foodstuffs most people find more tasty.  Expensive ad campaigns and placing vegetable vending machines in schools and other locations just doesn’t seem to work.  On the other hand, even though trans fats are banned in New York City, donut connoisseurs still find ways to smuggle Krispy Kremes in from New Jersey.

What the folks in Washington, in New York, and at the OECD don’t seem to get is that governments are and always will be ill-suited to be guardians of our diets.  Good eating habits start at home; with good parenting and with strict parenting.  Fewer two-parent households and less-educated parents tend to lead to fatter kids.  Unless that situation is rectified, all the legislation and studies in the world won’t significantly shrink America’s waistline.

53 comments Add your comment


October 4th, 2010
7:24 am

That’s why Islam seems so strange to us: No Fatah Chicks. No Fatwa chicks either. In fact, I don’t think radical islamists let their balls and chains even sit down at the dinner table with the men.

There are things about Islam that make sense. Forget the ground zero mosque and community center, America wants a ground zero nosh center. (sorry)

barking frog

October 4th, 2010
7:43 am

Fat is a disease. Fat is an epidemic. Fat needs medical
treatment. Dollars for Doctors. Diet be Damned.


October 4th, 2010
8:09 am

No telling what effect this will have on our new ObamaCare health premiums too!


October 4th, 2010
8:53 am

Ok everyone. To help fight obesity, Michelle and I will start leading free morning workouts on the White House lawn every morning at 7:30. Classes start in 4 weeks after I have had a chance to quit smoking.


October 4th, 2010
9:07 am

Go after the people at the Tea Party rallies. I notice that 90% of the people in attendance seem to have Dunlop’s disease–the belly done lopped over the belt.


October 4th, 2010
9:15 am

Disgusted…you are just bitter because they were edging you out at the trough at Golden Corral and you missed out on the last bowl of banana puddin’.


October 4th, 2010
9:20 am

The “obesity problem” in the US may soon go away. As millions remain unemployed, and lose their unemployment checks, food will become a rare item. After a few years of rice and beans a lot of now obese Americans will be a lot slimmer.

I’m a “half full” type of guy!


October 4th, 2010
9:37 am

It is women that make the U.S. the fattest nation. They naturally tend to pack on the pounds. At the Y where there is swimming and water aerobics, I see them working out, it is like watching hippos at the watering hole in those National Geographic films in Africa. They paddle around and get all limber then come out for feeding time. Now males, they really work up a sweat, staying fit and trim and all buffed up. It is genetic. At Walmart, the fatties are going up and down the ailes in electric carts. I watch to see what they are putting in, eclairs, pop tarts, cakes, popcorn. Of course, I have a solution, if the little lady goes fifty ponds over optimum, it is grounds for divorce, 75 pounds is grounds for annulment and 110, she has to pay alimony.

[...] More here [...]

Mrs. Norris

October 4th, 2010
9:52 am

So, fat is the new leper. Good, gives us smokers a break.


October 4th, 2010
10:01 am

More fat back in the Green beans thank you, and that Waffle House serves up the most delicious diet food ever !

Dr. Pangloss

October 4th, 2010
10:47 am

According to Forbes, which gets its figures from the WHO, the US is the 9th-fattest country. Nauru, a tiny island nation in the South Pacific, is #1 with 94.5% overweight.

Middle of the Road and looking both ways

October 4th, 2010
10:47 am

Nelson, I hope your tongue is firmly planted in your cheek when you wrote that slip about women. Ahh… to have testosterone to perk up your energy. Fat settles around women’s hips and thighs as GOD intended to protect our child bearing selves and the future of Mankind. Now, when I watch NFL footall and see all those bear bellies in the stands with hair on their chests, I will think of you. You are probably among them.


October 4th, 2010
11:14 am

A lot of our health problems could be fixed tomorrow if we stopped subsidizing corn in the United States. Corn subsidies make it cheaper for our soda makers to use high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar. High fructose corn syrup is absolutely awful for you in comparison to good ole glucose. It only speeds up the process of hyperinsulination, which is the foundation for a whole bevy of chronic and preventable diseases. Corn subsidies also make it cheaper to feed our cattle grain instead of grass. It’s rather unfortunate, considering what grain does to our livestock. It irritates their insides so badly that the farmers have to saturate the feed with antibiotics to keep the cattle alive long enough to get to slaughter.

A lot of horrible health problems stemming from an extremely outdated policy.

Brad Steel

October 4th, 2010
11:54 am

The May or may not be effective. But there is no doubt that existing policy Ag subsidies lower the cost of many high-calorie low-nutrient food and food products.

Bob, maybe it would have been worth mentioning the fattening and unhealthy effect of existing government hand-outs to big Ag.


October 4th, 2010
1:13 pm

It doesn’t matter anyway..the genie is out of the bottle. It’s predicted that 75% of US citizes will be overweight by 2020. That will be the norm so why should most people care. Those of us that actually manage to maintain our weight will be the ones that are considered abnormal. I’m 40 years old, exercise regularly and I’m careful with my diet…it’s something I’ve been careful about all my life. I’m about ten percent body fat. I don’t have an eating disorder and I’m not obsessive about working out but if you listen to the comments from my fat brothers and fat coworkers you would think I was some sort of freak because I actually care about my health.


October 4th, 2010
1:18 pm

Well I guess the US has better concerns than be interested in the obesity of its citizens. I am glad Mr Barr is on the case. With the war going on, illegal immigrates taking all the low paying jobs, the Tea Buggers out finding out who has this country so they can take it back, all the traffic here in Atlanta, Sonny doing nothing about the water at Lake Lanier, and Deal hiding from an ethics investigation and hiding that 2 million dollars, we don’t need to be concerned that many Americans are suffering from obesity. We will just blame that on the Democrats. We blame them for eberything else already.


October 4th, 2010
1:26 pm

It is my constitutional right not to look like a liberal wants me to look like.

BS Aplenty

October 4th, 2010
1:28 pm

My congratulations, JohnF, at 10% body fat, you are not the problem. However, too much government is the problem. Until we begin to charge people for this problem through higher health insurance premiums, like the extraordinary taxes levied on smokers, then the problem will not go away.

And it will significantly add to health care costs in this country. Between Medicare and Medicaid fraud and obesity, you could save enough to almost certainly guarantee health care for the 10% of the population that does not already have (and wants) health insurance.

The old political maxim rings true: Subsidize whatever you want more of and tax whatever you want less of.


October 4th, 2010
1:29 pm

Ezra, nobody, not even liberals, give a rat’s ass what you look like. So you can stop being so angry and have another Big Mac.


October 4th, 2010
1:41 pm

The sad thing is….Americans just do not care how they look,period….walk thru the airport and you see immediately….I travel a lot to other countries, and the first thing I notice when I return back to the US, are the over-weight customs agents, TSA personnel, and then into the general public, is unbelievable…maybe is the state of our country, the rise and fall of the American empire…watch a football game , and count out of every ten commercials, how many are for either food or beer, is amazing, not like that every where else


October 4th, 2010
1:53 pm

Wanna see fat?? Just look at the bloated size of the domestic federal government and the military industrial complex. Now there’s fat. Little wonder the nation looks like its government.

And just look at what is subsidized in agriculture policy – everything processed and bad for you. Meat, corn, dairy. They have made it so that processed, packaged crap is far cheaper than fresh vegetables and fruit. Big surprise that as the nation becomes poorer and poorer they are forced to consume garbage in order to afford to eat.

Tychus Findlay

October 4th, 2010
2:12 pm

@BS Aplenty

The LAST thing we need is the f’n government telling us what we can and can’t eat. People have the right to overeat and eat fatty foods and die at an early age. We call it natural selection. The problem is that modern medicine intervenes to keep people alive longer than the decisions they’ve made should biologically allow them to live.

Death by fork and spoon

October 4th, 2010
2:15 pm

Are their any funeral home stocks on the NYSE ? Good investment !!!!!! I love America

Interested observer

October 4th, 2010
3:07 pm

TINSTAAFL is right. Much of our obesity begins with the Farm Bill. The Nanny State is providing massive subsidies to the farmers and to the obese. God bless America.


October 4th, 2010
3:44 pm

‘watch a football game , and count out of every ten commercials, how many are for either food or beer, is amazing.’ — So true. And the other 50% are for blood pressure and diabetes drugs.


October 4th, 2010
4:12 pm

First, EVERY child in the first to twelfth grades should have PE. Every semester no exceptions. Like we did when I was that age. And when the occasional Human Blimp was indeed a rarity and not an everyday sight.

And so what if their lazy and weak parents raise holy hell and bellyache about Lardass Johnny and Two-ton Suzy’s comfort, or lack thereof? News bulletin. That is not paramount. Their health and fitness are.

There are no fat people. Just lots and lots and lots of unfit ones…


October 4th, 2010
4:37 pm

I’ve gotten fat over the year, but at age 60, it’s unlikely that I’m getting laid anyway so who cares? A skinny old man or a fat old man? Notice no paparazzi following me around?

Church of the Latter Day Dude

October 4th, 2010
5:12 pm

My exercise regime is bowling, man.

Shark Punch!

October 4th, 2010
5:13 pm

“Fewer two-parent households and less-educated parents tend to lead to fatter kids.”

And there’s a simple explanation for that. Single or less-educated parents generally means a lower household income, and providing a healthy diet for one’s kids is a lot more expensive (not to mention time-consuming) than buying pre-processed microwaveable junk food.

As others have said above, start by cutting down on subsidies to the corn and beef industries, and make a healthy diet a more accessible and affordable option.


October 4th, 2010
7:03 pm

“Fewer two-parent households and less-educated parents tend to lead to fatter kids. Unless that situation is rectified, all the legislation and studies in the world won’t significantly shrink America’s waistline.”

Glad you were able to nail the source of the problem so easily, Bob. And your proposed solutions are…?

And Tychus, I thought your crowd believes in creationism, not natural selection. And wouldn’t letting people die young require those godawful liberal “death panels”? Just curious.

roberta higginbottom

October 5th, 2010
12:06 am

I think a wondeful time for parents to talk to their kids about living a healthy lifestyle is when they are driving them to the end of their driveway to wait for the school bus. Or to pick them up.

mike d

October 5th, 2010
12:42 am

I like to eat a lot, but I pay tweakers to put their lips to my behind and suck the food out of me quickly so I don’t get all of the calories.

Texas Pete

October 5th, 2010
12:47 am

My girl friend was getting a little chuncky, so we made a deal – just after dinner, I give her mouth a golden love shower and she regurgitates eveything she ate that night.

Ole Guy

October 5th, 2010
1:36 am

Conservative, you just may have a point worthy of serious consideration. After people actually adapt to the realities of surviving on less, we just might see, after a few generations, a healthier society. This just might be a society which has learned to be self-sufficient…to refrain from total reliance on government for addressing social ills while, at the same time, accepting responsibility for their own destinies. YA THINK?


October 5th, 2010
1:48 am

I make money investing in pharmaceuticals stocks…designed just for poor ;life styles ie, anti cholesterol, i poor heart condition etc….so eat up

John Tackett

October 5th, 2010
4:50 am

Hey, weight loss is possible, read my story @ So excuse me, but I have a 6 mile run to do before 6am. Later…


October 5th, 2010
5:30 am

@ Middle of the Road: It’s called a sense of humor. Ask your doctor if he can help you with it. That is, if you can fit through his office door without turning sideways and buttering up your immense child-bearing hips.


October 5th, 2010
6:07 am

America has the worlds fattest poor people. Strange as it may sound, there’s a link between poverty and obesesity. Go to Walmart, check out the shopping carts filled will giant bottles of soda, potato chips, macaroni and cheese ect. ect. fatty foods are cheap. Poor people eat cheap foods. That would also explain why our neighbors to the south are also becoming lard butts while Canadians are not. School was once the only place a poor kid could get a healthy meal. Now they’re served the same crap they get at home. After all, as Reagan pointed out , katchup’s a vegetable. The local family farms that used to provide us with fresh fruits and veggies have been largely replaced by tax subsidzed corporate farms. What should we do about this sorry mess. I recommend nothing. We’ve done enough already.

The more things change ...

October 5th, 2010
7:03 am

Conjure up in your mind those illustrations you saw as a child when the topic of study was ancient Rome, teetering on the edge of its Fall. Almost without exception, her citizens are fat. Need I say more?


October 5th, 2010
7:21 am

Mr. Barr is completley right when he says it is not the governments responsibility when it comes to our weight. Having a stupid parent, who is uneducated and who is a fat *&#& themselves is the main problem. I work in an industry where all I see is one fat person after another having delivery food brought to them, so they can stuff their obese faces. The Republicans are right when they preach personal responsibilty, of course they are hippaocrites and doing everything they preach against(have affairs, molest young boys, and being obese slobs themselves, etc.), but the message is on point. We are all responsible for what we put in our body, what time we go to work, to pay our bills on time. Until it is a real stigma that being a fat lazy slob, who doesn’t pay their bill on time, and provide for their family, we will continue to be a nation of fat, obese slobs. Man I am angry.


October 5th, 2010
8:00 am

Well Bob, you forget they are now are health insurers too so time to legislate some wellness to trim the fat…in the budget. To play devil’s advocate, exercise and regular sleeping patterns have huge effects on the brain, so they may be worth measuring as a productivity indicator. Just like moderate alcohol use.


October 5th, 2010
8:06 am

Disgusted, I believe liberals have 24 hours a day in which they can work out whereas republicans are still going to work for 8-10 hours. :-)

Ahnald, America does have many fat people but also some of the most physically fit as well. I am sure we have the highest number of fitness clubs per capita.

It is only a matter of time before the Democrats give us all pedometers and start “taxing” us if we don’t walk a certain number of steps. If you really care, switch the tax code from income range to weight range.


October 5th, 2010
8:13 am

@uga_b: well i am a liberal, but sleep 6-7 h, work 10-13 h and do work out 30-60 min. Every other day. Just stop watching dumb TV shows….

Yes, America has also the fittest people – all doped out. Ok Lance is an animal as is LeBron. And even if there is a high rate of fitness clubs, it seem not be enough…so it is not efficient. And right – all Democrats are fit and want to give you a pedometer and wanna tax you….

You should start working out, the increased blood flow would bring more oxygen to your brain and this is always helpful.

Those who ignore

October 5th, 2010
8:21 am

The rise of the Roman Empire is as elusive to explain as the fall. However, a new finding helps: Rome failed about the same time as the invention of the breakfast burrito.

THose who ignore what they eat for lunch are doomed to repeat it.


October 5th, 2010
8:39 am

As long as black men say they like fat women ..the stupid women will be obease..they make clothes for plus size women, i notice mid west women the big beef eaters are very obease. Wake up black women you killing yourself trying to please your man.


October 5th, 2010
8:50 am

The cheapest food is also the unhealthiest . Don’t you think there might be a correlation in this economy ? Walking is free & why no one does that anymore is pretty sad . Anyhow we really should tax fast food heavily so we can pay for the uninsured tubby poor . If you can’t afford insurance you probably can’t afford broccoli .


October 5th, 2010
11:08 am

Fat is GREAT for the Drug industry……..Lobbyist’s will make sure they have the say in keeping American’s unhealthy.


October 5th, 2010
11:30 am

I am 5′ 10″ and now weigh 160 pounds at age 37. This is the heaviest I have ever been. I have been blessed with a high metabolism. Still, I see the love handles starting to form where there weren’t any before. I am not going gentle into that goodnight. I have been exercising religiously for over 5 months now. I am going to be ripped at 50.


October 5th, 2010
11:34 am

“America can lay claim to the dubious honor of being the fattest nation around; more obese, even, than our ancestral home, the United Kingdom”

Uh, what? The UK may be your ancestral home, Bob, and (though I’m not particularly proud of it) it certainly is mine, but surely it is not “ours” ? … seems like the original “Americans” (and their ancestral home) already lived here when the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. arrived to colonize?