BG2: How do we fare against the world in the obesity stakes?

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A recent study showed that 700m people across the world are obese. These maps show obesity levels around the world – with red showing countries with the highest proportion of people classified as obese and green having the lowest proportion.

Interestingly, although countries in North America and Europe appear prominent on the global map owing to their size, the countries with the biggest obesity problems are almost exclusively found in the Pacific Islands – with American Samoa (74.6 per cent of the population), Nauru (71.1 per cent) and Cook Islands (63.7 per cent) making up the top three.

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Somewhat interesting that the most isolated countries with very little comparative wealth would be having obesity problems.  But, so do we.  What is saving our average obesity is the large number Asian immigrants.  Hey, finally they’re good for something, right?  Tongue in cheek, you mouth foamers.

The problem is, those of us who are fat, and I’m looking at you BG2-ers, have distorted the country.  Look at this:

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Never mind global warming, local obesity is already eating our coast lines!

So, 1 in 4 of us are so fat as to be obese.  That’s a long term health time bomb waiting to off on the tax payer.  But we’re in “good company” with most of the western world being in the same boat.

So, not only are BG2-ers making ourselves healthier, we’re also helping out our fellow tax payers by becoming less of a drain on the health system.  Onya.

 

– The Independent

 


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  • caochladh

    India has 0% obesity? Tell that to my super fit skinny colleague who went to India for a holiday and thought he would buy some cheap suits. He ended up having some tailor made as the ones off the peg were all too large. There are a lot of porkers in India too as it is taken as a sign of wealth.

    • Bartman

      Sure are – but they are outnumbered 10,000 to 1 so the stats hide this well-known fact.

    • Grizz30

      Half of indians are vegetarians. Even some of these are Brahmans and Jainians and follow a very restricted vegetarian diet so look like Gandhi. That said, Indians do eat a lot of ghee, fried breads and white rice which arguably contribute to obesity and diabetes. Again if I ate their diet (once getting over the repeated bouts of dysentery) I would also be a porker.

      • caochladh

        You wouldn’t be alone there. I know many NZ born Indians who have returned to India to check on ancestral property etc., and have returned a lot worse for succumbing to the delights of “Delhi Belly”.

  • Grizz30

    I just do not understand how Asians avoid obesity. If I ate their diet I would be a porker. They like the deep fryer as much as, if not more than the Scots. They must eat small portions, otherwise I am baffled.

    At least today we are far more aware of obesity. Most of us will choose to ignore it. However it will only be beaten by better lifestyle choices. Provided more of the Gen X and Y population get motivated to tackle it and better educate themselves on good choices, then we may see obesity drop. However this is probably just wishful thinking.

    • Sir Brucey

      I suspect it might also have something to do with eating small amounts and often. Also the Asian diet appears low in carbs which are the fat producers, especially so in the case of belly fat.

  • Looks like a bit of fat running to waist in NZ. SI is getting somewhat plump!

  • kiwirog

    I like that Whale Oil is doing its little bit to help its members (30% of them?) shape up, with education and what looks like a contest.

    It makes good business sense too, whilst the other “political” blogs are very narrow you guys have the “Islam/jewish thing” as a strong second bow and now, maybe, the obesity thing as a developing third (especially given the leader’s current training regime). All credit to Cam.

  • johcar

    I was recommended an app today for measuring and counting calorie intake: MyFitnessPal, available on Android (and iOS, I’m told), and so, because I’m a geek who loves gadgets…. :)

    Looks really easy to use, and it has the facility to scan a barcode (even for Kiwi foods) so you don’t have to guess how many calories are in a serving.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.myfitnesspal.android

    (Sorry, no Apple link – I will NOT go there…)

  • justwanttofish

    Somehow missed the BG2 signup. Mommadog inspired me a week ago, bought the sox a few days ago, unearthed the bum bag for the phone (in case of needing to be scraped off footpath) yesterday and bought the running shoes and shorts today. BMI on the cusp between just ok and obese. Have eaten nothing but scotch fillet and veges for two days; just fruit today. Will be walking/jogging/running at 4am daily from tomorrow. I hope. Will also be trying out MyFitnessPal but not until I’ve stuck with it for a week. So pleased oilers focusing on this. It is after all what we focus on that we achieve best at.

    • Wallace Westland
      • justwanttofish

        Thanks for that; have sent email to join.

    • Mikex

      Can vouch for MyFitnessPal. It’s very easy to use and get even easier as you establish your normal meals and then simple to keep up to date. Very good at showing trends which is the main thing and it teaches you a lot about calories and excercise. It can be a bit depressing though, like when it showed me how far extra I had to walk to justify having another beer….

      • Wayne McDougall

        Sorry to say that the level below BMI obesity is NOT Ok. It is overweight. And still has attendant health problems.

        While it is true that BMI was intended as an epidemiological tool averaged over large populations, it is at least a useful objective flag that something is probably not right.

        In short, if your BMI is over 25 and you are not a professional athlete or sportsperson, then your health is suffering.

        Not to rain on anyone’s parade but I believe the truth will se your free.

        • idbkiwi

          Arte you sure about that? The American Medical Association doesn’t agree with you…

          Association of all-cause mortality with overweight and obesity using standard body mass index categories: a systematic review and meta-analysis…
          CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: …”Grade 1 obesity overall was not associated with higher mortality, and overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.”

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Search&term=JAMA%5BJour%5D+AND+309%5BVolume%5D+AND+71%5Bpage%5D

          • Wayne McDougall

            Yeah, I’m still sure. That’s not AMA by the way. The AMA’s official view is here: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/public-health/promoting-healthy-lifestyles/obesity.page

            What you quote is one paper published. While it’s convenient to look at one study that tells you what you want to hear, there are too many obvious problems with the one you cite, as well as it being contrarian.
            1. It’s a meta-study, so they choose which studies to include and exclude. They only choose the ones that adjust for smoking, age, sex etc “properly”. Even then they still reckon that 45% of the studies were not adjusted properly – in their opinion, although they still used the data. So the data has been adjusted. As they note, they may have made errors. And their assumptions for how to adjust may be invalid.
            2. “After excluding ever smokers and those with a history of cancer or heart disease…” – highly dubious in my opinion. Being overweight is a known increase in the risk of cancer and heart disease. So excluding people with a prior history will bias your sample.
            3. There is “limited data on age”. Quite simply, the overweight and obese people are more likely to have died before they got to be in the survey. So you have survivor bias – you are only surveying the healthier ones left!
            4. The 16 year, 44000+ nurses study (women only) cleary shows being overweight kills you off faster, and the more overweight, the faster you die: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/117/13/1658.short
            5. It turns out that being sick and smoking can make you lose weight – and can also kill you. Buy including those deaths in the “not overweight” category, you are overstating the mortality thus creating the illusion being underweight is healthy.
            6. On an anecdotal level, I get to visit retirement homes – I don’t see fat old people. I’m sure there are some, but I see lots of thin old people.
            7. That said, people do lose weight as they get older. And as these not-overweight old people start dying, they also increase the mortality in the not-overweight table. Making it look safer to be fat.
            8. We’re also getting better at treating the diseases of being overweight (and spotting them earlier – some suggest overweight people get better health care because doctors check them more carefully). So you may be alive, but unhealthy with diabetes.
            9. Physically active people live longer – clearly established from long-term studies. It is not impossible to be active and overweight, but it is harder and less common.
            10. Overweight and obese are much more liely to die fro heart disease http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=192035
            11. Finally, as I said BMI is a useful flag but was never intended to be used as an individual productive. These controversial studies may just reflect the inadequacy of BMI as a measure. There are plenty of people with a normal BMI who are overweight. But having a BMI over 25 should still be a flag to check out more useful data – belly fat, and other signs of carrying too much fat

            The controversy will not go away. Carrying a little extra fat may be helpful to some people – maybe if you are the sort who gets the flu every year and you need some reserves.

            But overall, I am dubious. In general, for the average person (and only the average – you should be looking at personal measures like waist circumference) – for the average person a BMI below 25 is probably a worthy target. That’s still above average for what is considered a healthy range.

            That’s worth repeating. If, say 24 was the healthiest point for the average population, breaking normal into 18.5-25, and overweight as 25-30 would tend to show being overweight as healthier.

          • idbkiwi

            Thanks Wayne, for taking the time to comment and your comprehensive reply; but crikey! please keep your rebuttals to one at a time, it’s taken me ages to get through all that, what with references and all.

            I agree that data doesn’t reveal everything, for instance overweight people might be living longer, but miserably. Fair enough.

            Nevertheless, you say “If, say 24 was the healthiest point for the average population, breaking normal into 18.5-25, and overweight as 25-30 would tend to show being overweight as healthier.” that would be the same outcome as the paper I cited: “overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.”

            I’m not pretending I’m cleverer than you or MOH, just that the obsession for BMI under 25 has consequences, just as BMI over 35 has consequences.

          • Wayne McDougall

            If I’m called up to defend myself against Flegel, I can’t just say nyah, nyah, nyah, you’re wrong. :-) Just read some interesting research that shows the obesity paradox (overweight and Obese 1 BMI 25-30, and 30-35 live longer that normal weight (18.5-25) – the paradox *goes away* if you define normal weight as BMI 20-25 rather than 18.5-25. So possibly we’re including unhealthily underweight people as being normal. Realising of course that for an individual 18.5 (or lower) may be perfectly normal for you, your body type, etc

            I think the Ministry of Health is most worried about the trend. Average BMI is on an increase and it is not uncommon for doctors to treat patients with a BMI of over 55. And they get offended when sent to the zoo to be weighed or scanned. And ambulances are having to be strengthened.

            Seriously, I’m interested in where you see obsession? International guidelines is that BMI > 25 indicates a population is overweight (average of a large group). What is the obsession?

            I do know that some doctors would say “you are overweight” and the patients says, indignantly, “I’m not” and this does not go well. But saying your BMI is over 25 – you need to lose weight – sounds nice and objective – a good doctor will use this but has done all the actual measurements and tests to see that this patients has a weight problem. It usually isn’t hard to tell….

            I’ll say again, if your BMI is over 25 you probably need to take a serious look at whether you need to lose weight. Is the MoH saying anything different?

  • sandalwood789

    Guess which place has the 8th most-obese men and the 3rd most-obese women?

    The West Bank and Gaza.

    I kid you not – here is the data –
    http://www.economist.com/node/8846631

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