Obesity generally results from using less energy than we consume. Since 1980, the proportion of the population categorized as ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ has doubled. Theories abound explaining why we keep getting fatter. Are we consuming more than we used to? Serving sizes are larger, but since weight gain causes increased appetite, it’s more likely that causality runs from weight gain to larger portions.

Growing up on a farm meant that I had the “blessing” of burning off all of the calories I consumed. Now that I am an academic, I have to invent ways to keep my energy equation balanced. Building on this background, my own casual empiricism jives nicely with Kevin Patterson’s essay Diseases of Affluence. Patterson weaves an interesting tapestry of adventure and anecdote. The essay’s core is:

Since 2001, premature death from obesity has exceeded death from malnutrition. The milestone was reached at almost the same time as another: for the first time in history, the number of urbanites exceeds the number of rural dwellers.

The potential causes of obesity are myriad, but sedentariness is liken at the top of the list.

*Note the tendency in the comments to eschew personal responsibility and place blame on the food processors.