When the vast majority of people are obese…

What will it be like to be in the “skinny” minority?

It was recently reported in the news that 44% of the adult population in the United States is projected to be OBESE by 2030. Some states, like my boyhood home of Mississippi, will see obesity levels as high as 70%.

If we wait until the majority of us is obese—we’ll never get out of this mess.

Upon reading this news, it suddenly dawned on me that obesity is fast becoming the accepted norm—meaning that people like me will be in the minority. Just think about the implications:

  • Restaurants. When we enter restaurants, we’ll be asked if we prefer “regular” seating (in the best part of the room) or “irregular,” in the other part.
  • Clothing. The department stores will stock regular sizes of sportswear—with waist sizes of 38″ and larger for men. Then, the “big and tall” specialty stores of today will be replaced by the “lean and mean” stores of the future–for waist sizes below 38.
  • Airlines. The airlines will be keeping our height and weight on file and will be seating the regular people in the front of the plane, where the seats are larger—and only four across. This will also serve to move the center of gravity forward in the aircraft. As for us skinny folks,  we’ll be assigned to the irregular section in the back of the plane where there will be six-across seating.
  • Vehicles. Automobiles will be designed for the larger regular folks, while the irregular skinny people will need to buy what amounts to a booster seat for adults that provides padding around the cavernous bucket seat which is standard.

Governor Christie of New Jersey during the Sandy disaster

All of the above sounds absurd, but it could very well become a reality. We’ve already got a lot of prominent leaders out there who comprise the first wave of obesity in positions of authority.

For the past week, we’ve seen a great deal of one of them—the one Dave Letterman picks on almost every night. The exceptionally large, and highly popular, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.

The inspiration for this blog came from a friend who’d just attended the annual meeting of the National Safety Council. He caught my attention when he mentioned some of the obesity-driven safety and liability concerns that were being discussed. As he described the likely workforce of the future:

The incoming workforce will be increasingly obese over the next decade impacting their endurance, flexibility and  physical abilities. This will lead to reduced productivity, increased injuries (workman’s compensation cost increases), increased property insurance liabilities due to worker errors induced by reduced physical capacity and more subtle issues like workplace employee costs (i.e. clothing, larger chairs, etc.)

Not only do employers have an opportunity to reduce their current medical expenses, but they can protect themselves from the future liabilities of tomorrow’s workforce.

Get ready. This is what the new “norm” is going to look like in about twenty years.

In the last paragraph, my friend was referring to just another reason why today’s CEOs should be doing all that they can NOW to “tame the healthcare monster” of today—because he will be even meaner tomorrow.

The Bottom Line. It’s only going to get worse until some visionary CEOs take decisive action to correct it. Ironically, most CEOs think they’re already doing that. Towers Watson reports that virtually ALL companies with over 1,000 employees have a corporate wellness program in place today. But it is blatantly obvious that they’re not working—as our nation’s workforce continues to get fatter and sicker.

That’s because 99% of those “wellness” programs are missing the singe most crucial ingredient—serious attention to the FOOD. To my knowledge, only one CEO has demonstrated a commitment to a truly health-promoting, disease-reversing, whole foods, plant-based diet—John Mackey of Whole Foods Market.

The time for action is now—and the corporate CEOs are the only group of powerful leaders who have a financial incentive to help their entire workforce get healthy, trim and more productive. If we wait until the vast majority of our population is obese—we’ll never get out of this mess. (my 636th consecutive daily blog)

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Activism & Leadership, Corporate Wellness, Obesity and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to When the vast majority of people are obese…

  1. Mike R says:

    As I read this post, it occurred to me that this a national security issue. Fewer and fewer young people will qualify for military service, putting our national defense at risk. Also police and fire departments will be hard pressed to hire new recruits as the population gets heavier and heavier.

    • Linda says:

      I read recently that at least 1 in 4 applicants for military service is turned down because they’re overweight.

  2. Nathan says:

    Speaking of needing leadership on the Obesity issue; New York’s Mayor Bloomberg (despite other misgiving many may have with him) seems to be actively trying to take on the soda industry, and climate change is also on his radar at the moment. Have you, or has anyone told him that our unsustainable diet and climate change are intrinsically linked? He seems to be a billionaire who just might be convinced by the evidence to stake a position for the 4leaf diet.

    My best wishes that you and yours made it through the storm OK.

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