There is a disturbing commercial on television for a leading national buffet-style restaurant chain. Basically, it advertises that the same dining establishment that brought their customers the endless chocolate fountain that oozes molten chocolate ad nauseam now offers unlimited cotton candy. One’s blood sugar spikes just watching this ad.
It doesn’t end there. These items are in addition to all-you-can-eat chicken, roast, fries, brownies, carrot cake, sugar cookies and, yes, salad. This all comes for one low price.
Last year, Kansas was named the 16th most obese state in the country, according to the eighth annual F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011, a report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Kansas’s adult obesity rate is 29 percent.
Adult obesity rates increased in 16 states in the past year and did not decline in any state. Twelve states now have obesity rates over 30 percent. Four years ago, only one state was above 30 percent. Obesity rates exceed 25 percent in more than two-thirds of states (38 states)
Over the past 15 years, seven states have doubled their rate of obesity. Another 10 states nearly doubled their obesity rate, with increased of at least 90 percent, and 22 more states saw obesity rates increase by at least 80 percent
Here are some findings:
• Fifteen years ago, Kansas had an obesity rate of 13.5 percent and was ranked 36th most obese state in the nation. The obesity rate in Kansas doubled over the last 15 years.
• Since 1995, obesity rates have grown the fastest in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee, and have grown the slowest in Washington, D.C., Colorado, and Connecticut.
• Ten years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 24 percent, and now 43 states have higher obesity rates than the state that was the highest in 2000.
• Fifteen years ago, Kansas had a combined obesity and overweight rate of 47.6 percent. Ten years ago, it was 56.6 percent. Now, the combined rate is 64.9 percent.
• Diabetes rates have doubled in 10 states in the past 15 years. In 1995, Kansas had a diabetes rate of 4.8 percent. Now the diabetes rate is 8.4 percent.
• Fifteen years ago, Kansas had a hypertension rate of 23.5 percent. Now, the rate is 26.6 percent.
We can’t blame the restaurant for their endless offerings. The chain just offers up what its diners want.
The report cited above also outlines state and national efforts to curb the obesity problem. But, it will take more, it will take a grass-roots campaign.
The Barton County Health Department has been fighting this battle for years. Now, it is helping to promote the Summer Street Stroll on Thursday nights in conjunction with the City Band Concert. This weekly event is, among other things, a farmers market. The goal is to be an extension of the existing farmers market to expand the availability of fresh produce.
Ultimately, the decision of what to eat comes down to the individual. But, as we’ve seen is such cases as the ban on big sweet drinks in New York, our elected leaders aren’t afraid to intervene.