This is obesity week for the Summer Service Partnership. This post summarizes the lecture I gave on obesity at the start of the day.

We began by learning about the body mass index, or BMI. It shows how big you are compared to how tall you are.

Healthy is a ratio of weight over square root of height of 18-24. Overweight is 25-29. Obese is a BMI over 30.

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Students had a chance to find their own BMI on a chart, matching their height (in the left column) with their weight (in the top row) and mapping it onto their BMI.

Sadly, more and more Americans are obese.

Over the past three decades, America has faced an obesity epidemic. Today, there is not a single state in which less than one in five people are obese. To rephrase–every single state now has at least one in five of its citizens obese, with some states having as many as one in three obese citizens.

The Center for Disease Control has a terrifying series of slides on obesity in America (scroll down on the webpage to see the section on the History of State Obesity prevalence). It shows the growing epidemic in America.

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When states are light blue, it means that 1 out of 10 people in that state are obese.

Dark blue 1 in 5.

Dark red 1 in 3.

America’s obesity epidemic has been growing, fast.

We can change our individual behaviors to lose weight. Or we can change the social determinants of health.

It’s hard to change our own behaviors, but we can do it.

5-2-1-0 Let’s move!

5 servings of fruits and veggies/day

No more than 2 hours of television/video games

1 hour of movement for youth

Zero sugar sweetened beverages.

Formula for good health

And we can change the world we live in to make it easier to stay slim. Safe neighborhoods with clean well-maintained sidewalks to encourage exercise. Grocery stores with fruits and vegetables to eliminate food deserts. School sports for all. Parks and rec leagues. Added bike lanes. Stronger regulations for food marketing. Adding a soda tax. Banning super sized fast food meals. Ensuring water in school cafeterias.

Happily, our fitness level, not size, is what most determines our health.

We closed out the morning watching the video 23 1/2 hours by Dr. Mike Evans. He reminded us about what is the single most important thing we can do for our health:

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Eat well, move well, live well!