Drop that Twinkie, America, and get fit

From an editorial Tuesday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Anyone who has ever added extra pounds knows it’s much easier to gain weight than to lose it. Now the nation is learning that lesson too.

In what is becoming an annual warning that goes unheeded in too many households, the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation last week issued their latest annual report on obesity.

The closest thing to good news is that childhood obesity rates, though too high at 17 percent, have stabilized in the past decade and declined in some places. For adults, the rate of increase in obesity – it has doubled since 1980 – is finally beginning to slow, but it remains far too high.

The average American is more than 24 pounds heavier today than in 1960. In 1990, no state had an obesity rate exceeding 15 percent; now, no state has a rate that low. Colorado’s is lowest, at 21.3 percent.

Those numbers are an indictment of a culture built on high-calorie food and too little exercise.

If America doesn’t soon go on a collective diet, the health risks associated with too much weight – including high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes – will continue to go up with the numbers on the nation’s scales.

Dropping pounds is not easy, but it’s time for America to get in shape for a healthier future.