Seeing old friends from Baltimore this week, we were shocked. A couple of them – who were previously middle aged and almost portly – were young, tan and fit. We were almost afraid to say anything, worrying that they might have a wasting disease.
Fortunately, that was not the case, as one explained:
“We realised that we were all getting too fat. So we started a competition to see who could lose the most weight. The company put up US$1,000 – the prize goes to whoever loses the most in a 12-week period. It’s amazing.
Maybe this was just what people needed. All of a sudden, everyone is losing weight. I think the whole group – there are 45 people in the competition – has lost 600 pounds already…in about a month. And even people who didn’t sign up for the program are noticing…and they’re losing weight too. And then their wives and husbands see them slimming down…and they don’t want to be left looking like fat slobs. We never expected anything like this…but it is absolutely amazing. It’s working.”
Meanwhile, a report from the OECD tells us that another big bubble is growing – a bubble of blubber:
“More than 50% of adults are now defined as either being overweight or obese in no less than 10 OECD countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, Canada, Greece, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Hungary and the Czech Republic. By comparison, overweight and obesity rates are much lower in the OECD’s two Asian countries (Japan and Korea) and in some European countries (France and Switzerland), although overweight and obesity rates are also increasing in these countries. Focusing only on obesity, the prevalence of obesity among adults varies from a low of 3% in Japan and Korea to a high of 32% in the United States.
“Based on consistent measures of obesity over time, the rate of obesity has more than doubled over the past twenty years in the United States, while it has almost tripled in Australia and more than tripled in the United Kingdom. The obesity rate in many Western European countries has also increased substantially over the past decade.
“Gender differences are striking. In all countries, more men are overweight than women, but in just over half of OECD countries, more women are obese than men. Taking overweight and obesity together, the rate for women exceeds that for men in only two countries – Mexico and Turkey.”
Markets and Money