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A Detailed Look at Obesity in America

The average American watches 5 hours of TV per day. Who has time to exercise when there's so much quality programming to be seen?

Obesity epidemic in America

The United States isn’t exactly known for its lean and healthy residents. In fact, the country is home to a distressingly high number of couch potatoes.

Don’t know what a couch potato is? It’s a person who spends too much time on the couch watching TV and eating salty snacks or sweets. Of course, in today’s tech-savvy world, the average couch potato could be spending a lot of time perched in front of a laptop computer, too, watching YouTube videos and munching on pints of chocolate ice cream.

The sad fact is that the United States has far too many residents who are obese. And it’s a trend that doesn’t seem ready to slow any time soon.

Just consider some of the depressing numbers: The average U.S. resident spends five hours a day in front of the TV. Residents who are 45 to 54 years old are even worse; they spend an average of nine-and-a-half hours watching TV every day.

Adults, on average, also spend 142 minutes every day in front of a computer screen. They spend a considerable amount of time each day, too, tied up with mobile computing and communications devices.

The amount of TV watching that people do generally correlates with their weight. For instance, men who spend much of their leisure time watching TV are 20 percent more likely to be obese. For women, that number is even higher: 30 percent.

Adults who watched TV more than 21 hours every week were 80 percent more likely to be obese than their counterparts who only watched five hours or less of TV every week. Interestingly enough, reading, another sedentary activity, did not have the same correlation with obesity.

How can U.S. residents get more active and shed those pounds? They can do more housework, for one thing. According to the numbers, only 20 percent of men regularly did housework, compared to 51.4 percent of women. A total of 40 percent of men help with food preparation or cleaning, while 68 percent of women do the same.

Of course, vacuuming or dusting isn’t going to help U.S. residents lose weight until they change their diets. U.S. residents consume 16 billion quarts of popped popcorn every year. That is 52 quarts for every man, woman and child in the country. They also swallow 22 teaspoons of sugar every day. Most of this sugar comes in soft drinks and candy.

U.S. residents also love their fast food. That’s a problem because fast food is typically some of the least healthy. According to the numbers, U.S. residents spend more than $140 billion on fast food every year. That’s an increase of more than 1,000 percent since 1970.

Fast food restaurants have done their share in making U.S. residents fatter. These restaurants, for instance, spent $294 million in 2007 to launch marketing messages to children. This is bad news. Consider that a cheeseburger happy meal from McDonald’s with fries and a Sprite contains 640 calories and 24 grams of fat: more than half the day's recommended total calories!

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