Here is yet more bleak news about the obesity epidemic: Obesity isn’t just killing millions of people. It’s giving lots of them Alzheimer’s first.
“Obesity is now the top modifiable dementia risk factor in the U.S.,” reports the Journal of the American Medical Association in its latest bulletin. Obesity in midlife is now leading to more cases of dementia than any of the other usual suspects, including depression, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, or low levels of education. About a third of dementia cases in America are now associated with some combination of these factors, with midlife obesity, physical inactivity and low education levels leading the way. According to the medical study, midlife obesity was a contributing factor to some 18% or just under 1 in 5 cases of dementia in America.
A decade ago obesity wasn’t even in the top three.
But why should we be surprised? Nearly half of all Americans are now clinically obese. The percentage has risen by a third in a generation, while the rate of severe obesity has more than doubled.
The comedian Bill Maher spoke out about the subject three years ago, and the main result was a “social media backlash”… against Bill Maher. Go here to watch a licensed therapist tell people that if they are trying to lose weight they are giving in to “fatphobia.”
In the years before I quit alcohol and cigarettes, statistically zero people ever told me not to give in to smokephobia or boozephobia. Not one.
Is it true that obesity kills 325,000 Americans a year?
Nope. That official figure is more than 20 years out of date.
Since then, based on data from the U.S. Census and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of adult Americans with obesity has risen by about 70% and the number with severe obesity by 140%.
So simple math says the death toll is now probably around 500,000 every year, which is more than the annual Covid deaths in 2020 and 2021.
Now compare the extraordinary and heroic national measures taken over the last two years to combat Covid with the mass passivity about obesity.
Obesity now kills more Americans than smoking, says the Cleveland Clinic.
On average it wipes about 15 years off your life, according to this medical study from 2021.
The annual cost to America is an estimated $173 billion.
News that obesity also helps cause dementia has further grim news on the economic front as well as the human one. Some 6 million Americans already have dementia and the numbers are rising steadily as more people age. Dementia is a vicious and cruel disease that is especially devastating to family members, but also imposes a severe burden on everyone around the victim.
The cost to the economy of dementia is nearing $300 billion a year, including the terrible toll the disease takes on families and carers.
You’d think we’d be tackling this for the thing it is: The No. 1 health crisis in America — worse than drugs and worse than Covid. You’d think we’d be tackling a food industry that pushes edible crack. You’d think we’d be teaching kids about better and simpler nutrition in schools. You’d think we would, at the very least, stop subsidizing unhealthy food through the SNAP program. You’d think we wouldn’t be trying to stop people talking about the subject honestly.