Current Events 2011
It should come as no surprise to any of our readers (especially those of you who are regular viewers of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution) that the United States has a bit of a problem with obesity. According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the period 2007-2008, 33.9% of U.S. adults were obese, 5.7 % extremely obese, and an additional 34.4% of the population overweight (but not obese). These figures mark a remarkable increase since 1960, when “only” 13.4% were obese, 0.9% extremely obese, and 31.5% overweight.
The high incidence of obesity in the U.S. made us curious about how this country stacks up against other OECD countries. According to OECD’s Society at a Glance 2011, the answer is…not so well:
Note: Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30 kg/m2, based on height and weight.
As this chart shows, the obesity rate in the U.S. is twice as high as the OECD average of 17%. (Our closest competitors were New Zealand (26.5% in 2007) and Chile (25.1% in 2009). That said, a separate OECD working paper shows that the U.S. isn’t the only country that has seen “growth” in its population: the percentages of obese and overweight have been moving upward in every country and among both men and women.
While Americans clearly love to eat in terms of quantity, on average we spend far less time cooking and cleaning up per day (30 minutes, which is the lowest average in the OECD) as well as less time eating per day (74 minutes, the 3rd lowest in the OECD):
In this age of politicians constantly espousing American exceptionalism, when it comes to efficiency in eating (i.e., lots of food in little time), America is certainly number one.