America is getting fatter. At least that’s what statistics have shown, and a recent Harvard study claims that the number on our national weight scale is going to keep climbing.

Currently, one-third of American adults are obese, while an additional 34 percent are simply overweight, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states. However, Harvard University researchers believe that the obesity rate will reach 42 percent, nearly half of the population, by 2050. Predictions from the study appear in the PLoS Computational Biology Journal.

“Our analysis suggests that while people have gotten better at gaining weight since 1971, they haven’t gotten any better at losing weight,” lead researcher Alison L. Hill said. David G. Rand, Martin A. Nowak, and Nicholas A. Christakis also co-authored the study.

And according to Hill, obesity in itself might be a social disease. The researchers concluded that there are three ways in which obesity has spread in our society. First, through social networks, from person to person—individuals sharing common spaces and inheriting certain eating or fitness habits from others. The spread of obesity also occurs through a nonsocial transmission—individuals who have an easier access to unhealthy foods or sedentary lifestyles. Lastly, the rate of recovery from obesity, or the ability to lose weight sufficiently and maintain a healthy body size is low.

What is the most popular way in which obesity spreads? Despite what we may believe, social factors play a heavy role in the weight game.

“We find that while nonsocial transmission of obesity remains the most important component in is spread, social transmission of obesity has grown much faster in the last four decades,” said Rand, a research scientist and a fellow in Harvard’s Department of Psychology and Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

One of the common arguments behind what puts individuals at risk for obesity is the social structures of poverty. Being poor can prevent individuals from being able to get quality, healthy food or produce in grocery stores that are often higher priced.  For some, stressful lifestyles with long working hours leave little time for adults to take a healthy timeout for themselves. This is not to say that all people who are poor are overweight. However, we cannot deny the relationship that exists between wealth, class, and weight as we work towards educating communities and creating a movement for healthier lives amongst women.

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  • Dee

    Based on the number of overweight children I see, I am not surprised by the report. When I was growing up, there was probably one slightly overweight child in a group of children. Now, the opposite is true. The slim to normal weight child is often the minority in a group of children. When I go to the supermarket, I am amazed at the poor food choices people make such as loaves of white bread and gallons of sugared water drinks. Even when people purchase salads from the salad bar in the supermarket, it is swimming in dressing.

  • Emelyne

    I doubt it will take 40 years. Over 60% of the population are already overweight and most of them don’t care enough to put in the work 9read: exercise and portion control) that it would take to reach a healthy BMI. As one commentor stated, going back to organic food would help, but with many people, it’s not the type of food that’s being eaten, but how much of it that’s the problem. That and many Americans glorify gluttony, live a sendentary lifestyle, and it’s becoming increasingly common to base thin women or label them victims of eating disorders rather than take personal responsibility for our own bodies.

  • Piper Davenport

    As a fat woman, it abhors me to see so many thin people turn their noses up at us fatties. First of all, what this poorly written article fails to take into account is genetics. The secret to staying permanently slim: Choose two thin parents, ideally choose four thin grandparents. America needs to get fit but blaming the expanding waistline of America on something as trivial as a social disease is nothing more then thinly veiled racism. After all, African-Americans are more likely to have bigger bodies. Clutch Magazine is being hypocritical. I stopped reading Essence Magazine because as a plus-sized(size 24) black woman, the magazine focused on losing weight as the be-all, end-all solution to the “obesity problem” in America. Clutch can’t say that it’s wrong to vilify Gaborey Sidibe on the one hand and then talk about us fatties being a social disease. Are you kidding me? Do you really think you can solve this issue by making us go away. I think not!

    • Emelyne

      You are a classic example of a person who has failed to take personal responsiblity. Yes, obesity is becoming a global epidemic and while genetics may play a role in making a person a little heavier, it has nothing to do with obesity; if that were true, obesity would be seen long before now and it would be a social norm. Also, there is not guarantee besides proper diet and exercise for a person remaining in a healthy BMI; having two thin parents doesn’t give anyone the liscence to eat like crap, not move a muscle, and expect to remain in good shape with healthy fat levels. It sickens me, also, how many fatties compare weight discrimination to racism, as if their weight (like race) is something that can’t be controlled. That’s bull!!! What proof? Watch an episode of “The Biggest Loser”, “You Are What You Eat” or even the documentary “Supersize Me”. Just because many fat people are too lazy to work out and don’t know when to put down the fork don’t mean they can be bully those with will power and self-control into embracing obesity as normal. BTW: You can be fat and healthy, but no way can an obese person be healthy. For that reason alone, this needs to be dealt with. Also, African-Americans are more prone to musclar bodies, not fat ones. We are prone to thicker hips and thighs, but its the diet of the common African American woman that makes this thickness fat instead of firm.

  • Fraulein17

    aside from just americans in general being obese, studies say that african american women are the most obese racial group in america. it seriously makes me cringe how at my job the few black people that i see (i work in a mainly latino neighborhood) are literally rolling down the street and are super big women. its rare to see a thin or average sized black woman. with the latino women theres a few that are just as big as the black women i see, but mainly the latino women are either thin,average weight, or have a shakira body. its very very embarassing to see almost every black woman walk in and be like 250-350lbs.

    in the neighborhood i work at people already have low expectations of blacks and expect us to be ugly,rude,ghetto,and 300lbs. when you see the only black peope visiting looking like that everybody stares at them like, “yup, see we were right! they’re all like that”. does anyone else feel where i’m coming from?

    • Emelyne

      I completely feel you. I’m tired of seeing huge black women that have somehow fooled themselves into thinking that they’re “thick” waddling down the road with 3-4 equally huge offspring. This is sick and disgusting and needs to stop now!