Stef W. Kight, Axious – Health and wellness are booming, but we’re fatter than ever
Between Soul Cycle, Fitbit, Whole30 diets and social media health gurus, the health and wellness industry is booming — but Americans are more likely to be obese today than ever before.
The problem: Despite promises made by gyms and fitness programs, physical activity does little to help people lose weight, says Ashkan Afshin from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. And Americans’ diets are still terrible.
“It’s the only disease that we put the blame on the patient and remove it from the healthcare provider.” — Fatima Cody Stanford, obesity medicine physician-scientist, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
One key trend: The prevalence of diseases most attributed to obesity — high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol — has held steady or even fallen over the past few years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But that’s mostly due to increased treatment for those conditions, health experts say.
Meanwhile, obesity has created a thriving industry in the U.S., even though many programs have little medical or scientific backing.
The U.S. fitness industry is the most lucrative in the world, bringing in $30 billion worth of revenue in 2017, according to the latest report by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) — a global trade association for the fitness industry.
- Since 2008, the number of gym members has increased by more than 33% in the U.S., according to the same report.
- The commercial weight loss program market was worth $2.77 billion in 2016 and was expected to grow 9.4% to $3.03 billion in 2017, according to Marketdata.
Read more. Image: Tim Lambrechts (Quasium), CC BY-SA 3.0
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