It has now been 12 years since we successfully mapped the human genome. We now have a cellular-level model of the human brain. And I just read yesterday that they restored a guy’s severed hand after grafting it to his leg.
Biology has come a long way. So, why can’t scientists agree on something as simple as which foods make us fat?
If it’s just a question of determining whether the cause of obesity is fats or carbohydrates, shouldn’t science have a pretty clear answer by now? It should, unless it’s not our food that’s making us fat.
Some of the latest research on obesity shows there may be factors involved that are unrelated to diet. Gut bacteria is now known to play some role, and some studies have even linked obesity to viruses. However, the factor that has received the most attention lately is obesogens, environmental pollutants that cause us to put on weight.
According to a study released in September, “…people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans.”
Here are some graphics showing just how much our bodies have changed over the last few decades.
Click on the map to stop the animation.
Today’s size 0 dress is larger than a size 8 in 1958
The average woman today weighs as much as the average man in 1960
Enter a gender, age, and height to see how different segments of the population have changed in the last 25 years
I’m old enough to remember the 80’s, and I don’t remember the food being all that much different from today. Yet, the average person of my current age and height is a full 30 pounds heavier today.
The concept of air pollution making us fat sounds crazy. But the idea that such a change has been caused only by food may be even crazier.
What does the U.S. government have to say?
Sadly, despite having been thoroughly disproved by science, and by American waistlines, the government continues to stick to its story.
- Obesity data by state is from the CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Because of a methodology change in 2011, the comparison between pre-2011 and post-2011 figures is not exact.
- Average adult weight is from CDC Body Measurements and a report from the New York City Department of Health.
- Dress size sizing standards are from the National Institute of Standards and Appeals (1958, 1970) and ASTM International (2001 , 2011). The practice of labeling clothing smaller than its actual size is known as vanity sizing.
I'm fascinated by data visualization and the ways that data is transforming our understanding of the world. I spend a lot of time with my face buried in Excel, and when I find something interesting I write about it here and as a contributor for the Huffington Post.
More about my background
Latest posts by Max Galka (see all)
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