New data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s “Society at a Glance 2009” report indicates that 34.3 percent of the U.S. population is obese—the highest among all 30 OECD countries.
Interestingly, however, people aren’t getting any taller. The growth in peoples’ girth isn’t matched by concomitant increases in their heights.
In the late 1990s, obesity-related healthcare costs accounted for about five to seven percent of the total health spending.
While the U.S. figures out ways to make people slim, the French are managing to keep lean and fit by eating even more than Americans.
The OECD report indicated that the French spent the most time, per day, eating and drinking (nearly 140 minutes as compared with under 80 minutes by Americans). They also spend longer periods sleeping.
Yet, they have one of the lowest obesity levels among the developed nations. It would appear then, that it’s not the quantity of food per se, that’s making people obese, but the type of food we’re eating that’s the culprit.
Analysis of data, collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the New York Times’ David Leonhardt reveals an interesting pattern.
Over the last three decades, the prices of unhealthy foods—save for cookies—have fallen.
Relative to the price of everything else in the economy, sodas are 33 percent cheaper than they were in 1978. Butter is 29 percent cheaper. Beer is 15 percent cheaper. Fish, by contrast, is 2 percent more expensive. Vegetables are 41 percent more expensive. Fruits are 46 percent more expensive.
The price of oranges, to take one extreme example, has more than doubled, relative to everything else. So, if in 1978, a bag of oranges cost the same as one big bottle of soda, today, that bag costs the same as three big bottles of soda.