"The Most Serious Health Problem in the U.S. Today is Obesity," as Stated 60 Years Ago

"The most serious health problem in the U.S. today is obesity." The all-too-familiar sentence started an article about obesity in America that would fit right at home right now ... except it was actually written 60 years ago.

In 1954, LIFE Magazine featured an article titled "The Plague of Overweight," in which they followed the journey of a woman named Dorothy Bradley who struggled with overeating and body-image issues that many of us can relate to today.

Ben Cosgrove of LIFE wrote in this blog post:

“Some five million Americans,” LIFE wrote [back in 1954], “medically considered ‘obese,’ weigh at least 20% more than normal and, as a result, have a mortality rate one-and-a-half times higher than their neighbors…. Another 20 million Americans are classed by doctors and insurance men as overweight (10% above normal) and are drastically prone to diabetes, gallstones, hernia, kidney and bladder impairments and complications during surgery and pregnancy.”

Today the numbers cited by LIFE have ballooned to even more appalling proportions: according to the CDC, “more than a third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2 – 19 years are obese.”

But perhaps the most astonishing and troubling statistic about obesity in the USA relates to the speed with which this affliction has taken hold: for example, in 2010 (again according to the CDC), “there were 12 states with an obesity prevalence of 30%. In 2000, no state had an obesity prevalence of 30% or more.” Feel free to read that again — and try to imagine the toll those millions upon millions of extra pounds will have on the health of those men, women and children, and on the nation’s economy.

Read the rest over at LIFE: Link


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