Lileks: Big news flash: Minnesotans are fat and getting fatter

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 20, 2012 - 8:00 PM

Minnesota always shows up in the top of the surveys of the Healthiest States to Bike to Whole Foods in a Yoga Position, so it's something of a shock to learn we're on course to be utter lardbuckets by 2030. It's almost as if those people running around the lakes aren't indicative of the general population.

Don't take my word for it. The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation says that 54.7 percent of Minnesotans will be obese in 18 years, up from 25 percent in 2011. And at least 59.3 percent will have their blood type classified as "buttermilk."

It'll be worse elsewhere. Sixty-seven percent of Mississippians will be obese by 2030, which will require the state to add additional consonants to accurately reflect the population, making it "Misssisssipppi." There's one bright spot: If the majority of the population cannot make it through a door without greasing the frame and hiring a battering ram, at least no one will be able to say their weight is above average.

Reasons for increased obesity? An increase in increased people, I suppose. Population grows, more people confuse boredom with hunger, a germ spread by tight Lycra kills off all the thin bikers, food companies decide just to cut to the chase and release one-gallon tubs of high-fructose corn syrup, changes in the Earth's core increase the strength of gravity so people can't get off the sofa after four hours of TV and are forced to endure a fifth. And Ronald McDonald goes rogue and starts knocking people down and force-feeding them McRibs.

Or, we eat too much and move around too little.

But what do they mean by obese? Obesity, you think, means "must be hoisted on the scooter by a series of ropes and pulleys." But you're considered obese if you have a BMI, or Bulbous Middle Index, of 30 or over. (Just kidding; it stands for Big Massive Intestines.)

Some say this isn't the most accurate way of measuring obesity, and I can confirm that. A few years ago I fired up Wii Fit, a console game that lets you lose weight and tone up by flailing your arms and punching polygons, and it said I had a BMI of 26, which was "close to obese." I was "close" to obese in the sense that Pluto is close to the sun. C'mon.

Sure, I'd put on some weight when my daughter was born. I went on a diet. Exercised more. Eliminated the greatest contribution to weight gain, which experts call "meals," and got lean.

When the Wii finally said I was no longer borderline obese, I realized that I had changed my life so I would gain the approval of a Nintendo gaming console, with the result being that people began calling me "Cadaver Jim" as a nickname. The only way I kept my pants from falling down was to put both limbs in one leg.

So I'm suspicious of the BMI.

The most accurate indicator of your obesity is the pair of jeans just out of the laundry, the ones whose waistband is an inch larger than the skinniest pair you have, but feel 2 inches looser after you've worn them a few days. I'm not talking about the January jeans you bring out after the month of gluttony. Your baseline jeans.

You can see how this could help: We pass legislation that locks everyone into their baseline jeans size; when you try to buy a larger pair, the clerk will scan the National Size Databank, note that you're trying to upsize, and decline the purchase.

If that sounds insufficient, you're right. The obesity report also suggests we "fully implement the National Prevention Strategy and Action Plan," which was apparently drawn up by the Bureau of Vagueness and Something, and "finalize the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children Guidelines."

It's NOT FINALIZED? Gah. Well, those steps should work.

Or, we could eat less, eat better and move around more.

I know that sounds baffling -- let me finalize the action plan and get back to you. We'll have a meeting about it.

You'll get an e-mail about whose turn it is to bring the doughnuts.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers and Vikings do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close