It is quite startling to see just how much the US has more or less surrendered to the obesity epidemic. Given how strong the association is between socioeconomic factors and obesity, I don’t think there can be many more powerful drivers of the epidemic than the gradual dismantling of the middle class in America, and the increasingly skew distribution of wealth.
The US is obviously a very unique country in many respects, but it seems that there are some very disturbing signs of unrest and tensions bubbling under the surface, partly as a result of this massive inequality in wealth. Earlier I posted about the water shortage in Detroit as one example of this. Another example is the current situation in Ferguson, Missouri, where there National Guard has been deployed this week for the first time since the 1992 riots in LA, and where regular police forces look like military (very Orwellian if you ask me).
Race unfortunately appears to be a critical factor in these clashes, which is not new to the US. And the black population as a whole is at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid, which is a veritable breeding ground for frustration, anger, hopelessness, fear and other very potent negative emotions. Negative emotions plays a major role in weight gain, which is very much reflected in the ethnicity-stratified obesity statistics for the US.
Indeed, the black, non-hispanic population have about twice as high obesity rates as whites, with over 50% of black women having obesity, a startling number.
A good starting point for the US, and any other country, that wants to minimize obesity rates, would be to minimize these tensions and inequalities, and create more equal opportunities for everyone. This is obviously not done without making some tough decisions, but it is certainly doable. The current trajectories for the US certainly suggests that they have a lot to gain from trying something new.