Why so fat?

In North America many people associate being over weight with somehow being defective as a person. I don’t. I will not be modeling the latest speedos. That being said, there is an obesity epidemic in North America that is about more than vanity and having a few extra pounds. It is about having many, many extra pounds. Having many, many extra pounds is a health hazard.

Many angry people claim that they eat very little, and are still what they call “fat”. I’m not an expert. I think the idea that some people put on weight easier than others is reasonable. I have seen it around me all of my life. We all have friends who can eat like horses and who can’t put on weight and vice-versa.

However, people habitually underestimate how much they eat. If you don’t believe me I invite you to invest one dollar in a memo pad and write down the portions of what you eat for 1 week. Then add up the calories. I think you will be in for a bit of a shock. You can use this site for free:


Many people think of overeating as gluttony. Eating that whole cake or that whole container of ice cream. The truth is that only a small and consistent excess of calories is necessary to put on significant amounts of fat. The flip side of that is good news: a tiny, but consistent caloric deficit can take off an impressive amounts of fat.

To lose a pound you need to create a caloric deficit of 3500 calories. If you reduced your consumption of calories by 250 calories a day at the end of the year you would be 26 pounds lighter. 250 calories is about what you would get from a can of soda or a bottle of juice. Impressive, no?

I am posting some notes I had stored on my computer. I took these notes from the August 2004 issue of the National Georgraphic. It is about the obesity epidemic in America and how American’s got that way. In short, we have been eating more and moving less. Notice the differences are not at the gluttony level, they are small differences that are adding up. Small differences can also work for you.

National Geographic. August 2004. Pages 46 – 61.
“Why are Americans so fat” by Cathy Newman.


1 in 3 Americans is obese, twice as many 3 decades ago

15 percent of children are overweight or obese, a three fold jump from 1980

Being overweight is associated with 400,000 American deaths per year.

Being overweight increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes,
colon cancer, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer.

The Center For Disease Control reports that adult women are eating 335 more calories per day then they did in 1971. Adult men are eating an extra 168 calories a day.

1 pound of fat is about 3500 calories. An excess of 250 calories a day will put on 26 pounds a year.

Being overweight or obese is a matter of taking in more calories then are used.

Most overweight and obese people are out of caloric balance, but only by a tiny amount of calories per day. A 250 calorie deficit per day will subtract 26 pounds a year.

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie.

The effects of bariatric surgery can be thwarted by people snacking lightly, but continuously throughout the day.

The United States, Russia, Thailand, South Africa, Egypt, Turkey, Germany and the UK have the highest obesity rates.

France ( yes France ), Italy, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Pakistan, India, China, Colombia, Brazil and a handful of African countries have the lowest obesity rates.

Proper serving size for fruit: the size of a baseball
Proper serving size for a burrito: the size of a bar of soap
Proper serving size for a steak: the size of a deck of cards
Proper serving size for pasta: the size of a computer mouse
Proper serving size for potatoes the size of a light bulb
Proper serving size for butter: the size of 1 die(dice sp?)
Proper serving size for cheese: the size of three dominoes

How Americans have come to take in more calories over the years:

1954 – Burger King hamburger: 2.8 oz 202 calories
2004 – Burger King hamburger: 4.3 oz 310 calories

1955- McDonald’s French Fries: 2.4 oz 210 calories
2004-McDonald’s French Fries : 7 0z 610 calories

1900-Hershey Bar: 2 oz 297 calories
2004-Hershey Bar: 7 0z 1000 calories

1916-coca cola: 6.7 fl oz 79 calories
2004-coca coal: 16 fl oz 194 calories

1950-movie popcorn: 3 cups 174 calories
2004-movie popcorn: 21 cups( buttered) 1,700 calories

How Americans have come to burn fewer calories over the years:

play a video game for 30 min 53 calories
play basketball 280 calories

ride a lawn mower for 30 min 88 calories
push a lawn mower for 30 min 193 calories

go to a car wash 35 calories
wash your car ( 30 min ) 104 calories

order take out food (1min): 1 calorie
cook a meal ( 1/2 hour ) 70 calories

load a dishwasher for 10 min: 23 calories
wash dishes (30 min ) 80 calories

email a collegeuge( 1 min ): 2 calories
walk to a collegue’s desk ( 1min ): 4 calories

ride an elevator for 2min: 3 calories
take the stairs for 2 min: 19 calories

watch tv ( 30 min ) 35 calories
play cards ( 30 min ) 52 calories

( above based on a 150 pound human )

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