Apr 27 2010

Graehm Gray: Almost Half of All Americans Have Either High Cholesterol, Diabetes or High Blood Pressure!

The headlines hit every newspaper, radio and television news program all across our country: 45% of all Americans have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol. These are the results of the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. 13% of American adults had at least two of these conditions and 3% had all three! 15% of American adults had one of these problems undiagnosed-yes-they are walking around with diabetes, elevated blood pressure or high cholesterol and they don’t even know it! Non-Hispanic African-Americans were more likely than non-Hispanic white and Mexican-Americans to have at least one of the three conditions. And even more revealing, non-Hispanic African-Americans were more likely to have all three conditions compared with non-Hispanic white Americans. As we all know, all three conditions are associated with heart disease-the leading cause of death in the United States. According to additional data from the Centers For Disease Control And prevention (CDC), African-Americans had a 51% higher prevalence of obesity compared with whites. It’s all starting to make more sense. In fact a recent research projection made by Anirban Basu, PhD of the University of Chicago indicates that “obesity rates across all age categories in the U.S. adult population will remain stable for the next 10 years. However young African American adults ages 18-39, children-mainly boys ages 6-9 and African-American children age 10 and older will have rising obesity levels.” Dr. Basu also noted that there will be a great increase in the “overweight” category for adults for “many years to come.”

So there is it my friends, almost half of us have one of the big three-diabetes, high blood pressure and or high cholesterol. Some of us are walking around with big problems and don’t even know it. Most of us adults will gain weight in the next few years and will have the dubious distinction of being “overweight,” while our children have a bleaker outlook-they will continue toward obesity. It is overwhelming. Despite the adult obesity rates supposedly stabilizing in the next 10 years, our children’s rates are rising. That means after ten years, as the children reach adulthood, the adult obesity rates will start rising again as well. With all of these diets, all of these fitness programs, all of these pieces of exercise equipment that I see on infomercials-and no matter how many times I see Marie Osmond, the outlook is the same. What can we do? Is it time for our government to set rules for us. Just like seatbelts. Once we were required to wear the seat belt, the rates of injuries and vehicle deaths decreased. According to the Safety Belt Statistics (James Madison University-www.jmu.edu), “for every one percent increase in safety belt use, 172 lives and close to $100 million in annual injury and death costs could be saved.” Can we apply this to obesity? Okay-hold on to your belts-could these be the next set of possible U.S. Governmental Obesity Requirements:

  • Require people to have semi-annual weights and waist measures. Give out dietary and physical fitness instructions to those that are overweight and obese. Determine a time frame for those individuals that are overweight (and obese) to improve their condition (e.g. 6 months) and then either give additional time for instruction and or start the penalty process.
  • Increase taxes for those individuals that are obese.
  • Increase the costs of healthcare and insurance for those obese individuals
  • Increase the cost of flying for obese individuals. Not only charging for extra seats, but an extra amount for extra body weight.
  • Require food stores and restaurants (including all fast food establishments) to weigh and measure each and every customer as they enter-and determine the appropriate amount and nutrient content of the food (e.g. appropriate calorie count) that they are able to consume. Included in the data should be the appropriate amount of salt, sugar, protein, fat and carbohydrates that can be served or bought. Undercover “Supermarket and restaurant police” can roam the various establishments and fine the owner and patron for buying and eating more than they should.
  • Require obese individuals to pay a fee to allow them to use the escalators and elevators in a public facility.
  • Require companies (including all offices of the U.S. Government) to start mandatory weight and measurement programs with similar time deadlines, schedules, instruction and penalties-similar to what the Japanese Government enacted recently.
  • Require schools to teach nutrition and fitness starting in the Pre-K environment and continue through college. Parental courses will be made available and parents will have to take a mandatory test to show that they are aware of the guidelines.

These are just a few possible actions that could be in store for us-in some weird future! That is if we are not conquered by aliens like Dr. Stephen Hawking has speculated. Can you think of any possible interactions that could stem the tide of obesity? Send them to me at talk@nerdel.com.

My friends, stay fit and healthy The New Nerdel Way!


The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES): The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data were used for these analyses. NHANES is a cross-sectional survey designed to monitor the health and nutritional status of the civilian, noninstitutionalized U.S. population. The survey consists of interviews conducted in participants’ homes, standardized physical examinations conducted in mobile examination centers, and laboratory tests utilizing blood and urine specimens provided by participants during the physical examination.




Definitions Provided By the CDC

Hypertension: Systolic BP ≥ 140 mm Hg or diastolic BP ≥ 90 mm Hg or currently taking medication to lower high BP. A definition for hypertension for diabetic persons is usually defined as systolic BP ≥ 130 mm Hg or diastolic BP > 80 mm Hg

Undiagnosed hypertension: A finding of hypertension and never told by health care provider that blood pressure was high (based on a negative response to the question “Ever told by a doctor or other health care professional that you had hypertension, also called high blood pressure?”)

Hypercholesterolemia: Levels of serum total cholesterol ≥ 240 mg/dl or currently taking cholesterol lowering medication.

Undiagnosed hypercholesterolemia: A finding of hypercholesterolemia and never told by health care provider that cholesterol was high (based on a negative response to the question “Have you ever been told by a doctor or other health care professional that your blood cholesterol is high?”)

Diabetes: A self-report of a previous physician diagnosis of diabetes or having undiagnosed diabetes.

Undiagnosed diabetes: Fasting plasma glucose of at least 126 mg/dL and no reported physician diagnosis.


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