American Society For Nutrition

OBESITY: A Mad Horse Without Any Bridles

OBESITY: A Mad Horse Without Any Bridles

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
Posted on 09/14/2009 at 03:56:20 PM by Student Blogger
By: Bobban S.

Truly, I am neither an obesity researcher nor a public health policy expert. But I do read material on this issue every now and then, and recently, I asked myself, why? United States is blessed with enormous research resources, facilities and funding, but still why can't we address the issue of obesity?

Obesity is a mad horse, a horse without any bridles (legislations or policies!) raging through society.


Obesity: Fact check
  • Health and Human Services (HHS) has more than 300 obesity-related programs nationwide and aims to reduce obesity rates to 15% in every state before 2010. But the trend is going the other way.  In 2006, except Colorado no state had an obesity rate below 20%.
  • In 1980, the average US obesity rate was 15%; now the average is 34.3%, and another 32.7% are overweight. The obesity rates exhibited by children above the age of six and adults have climbed by 50% in the past 20 years. 
  • Childhood overweight and obesity prevalence rates in the United States are steadily increasing with an annual cost of ~ 100 billion a year.
  • Between 1971 and 2003, rates of overweight for 2-5 year-olds have risen from 5% to 14%; for 6-11 year-olds, from 4% to 19%, and for 12-19 year-olds, from 6% to 17%. The rates of childhood obesity are higher in low-income and ethnic minority populations.
  • More than 60 bills (Childhood Obesity Reduction Act, Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity Act, Commonsense Consumption Act of 2003, Obesity Prevention Act, to name a few) are pending in Congress that address at least one provision for obesity. None have even been reported from committees, let alone debated by the full House or Senate.
  • The National Obesity Prevention Act of 2008 was the latest one which was developed to respond to the recommendations of public health experts and organizations. Because this bill was introduced in a previous session of Congress, no more action can occur on it and this bill never became law! , (H.R. 7179, Govtrack.US).
  • Factors positively influencing the passage of childhood obesity prevention legislation included national media exposure, introduction of the policy by senior legislators, and gaining the support of key players including parents, physicians, and schools. Major barriers included powerful lobbyists of companies that produce unhealthy foods and misconceptions about legislating foods at schools (Dodson et al. 2009).
  • The vicious nexus among poverty, obesity, food stamp programs and basic school meal programs is a controversial issue which is widely debated but still largely a grey area. But just a side by side comparison of obesity and poverty map in US seems to say a lot.

A new verve and momentum to prevent this dire medical problem by medical care, research and community approach needs solid policy initiatives (not just initiatives! But real implementation). Hope the new leadership under President Barack Obama makes meaningful measures and policies to curb this issue as promised.  Already Federal stimulus bill earmarked $650 million to support prevention and wellness activities targeting obesity, smoking, and other risk factors for chronic diseases.

Further, a major provision on much awaiting Obama's health care reform bill is to “invest in public health measures to prevention and wellness” to reduce cost drivers in our system—such as obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and smoking.  However, recent news said that health care reform will be discussed at the next session of Congress (after August) which might slow down this area which needs immediate action. Everyday thousands are stepping into childhood, and even thousands are initiating bad-food habits. So the earlier we can get hold of this mad horse, the better it will be for the society, our children and for our coming generations.

Let's go beyond blogging, an E- campaign? A campaign to prioritize obesity research and community initiatives to be of immediate effect, as a first step……

E. A. Dodson et al. 2009.Preventing Childhood Obesity through State Policy: Qualitative Assessment of Enablers and Barriers. J Public Heal Policy 30, S161.

Hi Bobban,

In my estimation there are two reasons we are unable to tame the horse. One is the quality of the food supply and the other is the quality of mainstream nutrition instruction.

The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is the arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for formulating and revising the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For at least three decades the Guidelines have contained four major mistakes. They are as follows: 1) the universal recommendation to restrict fat intake to lose weight, 2) the doctrine that high saturated fat consumption leads to clogged arteries, 3) failure to warn consumers about the hazards of excessive fructose consumption, and 4) failure to warn consumers about hazards associated with excessive omega-6 polyunsaturated vegetable oil consumption.

I urge you and any others who read this comment to watch this 89 minute video entitled

Sugar:The Bitter Truth. Just Google this.

Also, Google

This comment program must have some restrictions that I don't know about.

Here's the information that I suggested be typed into a search engine.

Sugar: The Bitter Truth
The Battle of the Diets: is Anyone Winning (at Losing?)
Whole Health Source Stephen Guyenet
Laura Corr Saturated Fat
Omega-6 Research News


I hope the above information helps you answer the question of why the United States is unable to address the obesity issue.

It comes down to a lot of things, some of which were mentioned already. Government policies have created a lot of poverty, which leads to people buying low-quality food, whose ingredients are automatically going to make them sick and overweight. There is lack of accurate information provided in most public education; we're brainwashed on the value of pharmaceuticals, even though their own studies prove that they're killing us; and then we're told to be afraid of nutritional supplements even while we're starving for the nutrients that make our bodies work. The food industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the government ... all to blame in one sense. But who's really to blame ...?

Obesity is from within:- I don't support all of the hype that it is the food chain or lack of availability of good education. Obesity is driven by personal body motabalism. Then the social setting plays its part. The relative wealth of a family and the care of the parents to ensure that eating habits are installed at an early age. I have a slow motabalism and could easily pile on pounds, but through some gentle exercise and a well balanced diet I keep on top of weight. I still eat a good variety of food and also eat my fav's at times.

Ultimately it all comes down to choice and people choosing to overeat. Perhaps more education is needed in schools, that is how the anti-smoking campaigns really took off and children were educated and made smoking parents feel so guilty they gave up smoking. Controversial I know, but Child Protective Services should be involved also as obese children, especially those very young could be tantamount to child neglect. This is topical in the UK at the moment. A couple of years ago, the owners or an obese labrador were charged with 'animal neglect', why are we allowed to overfeed our children and get away with it?

I agree it come's down to choice .You have to be in the right frame of mind to over come any habit ie over eating.I was 5 stone over weight, i had the right frame of mind but also i had a lot of support form my family.It's the right frame of mind that help's you in adult life

Posted Aug 19, 2010 10:54 PM by collin

Obesity is something because of the changes in the hormones. Having quantity and quality food can help reduce or stay away from obesity. And also i think one should avoid fast food. I think its really under the control of ones hand to stay away from obesity.