ALBANY, NY (Nov. 14)Americans have never been more aware of the dangers of weight gain, nor have they ever weighed so much, according to a SUNY-Binghamton study released Monday.
"In 1989, Americans were exposed to 1.8 reports on obesity each week and were an average of five pounds overweight," study director Marilyn Fleder said. "Today, the average American is nearly 10 pounds overweight and sees or reads at least four reports on the obesity epidemic each week. If the trend continues unchecked, Americans will weigh 17 pounds more, and network news shows will devote a daily minimum of three minutes of airtime to obesity issues by 2010."
Fleder blamed the dual trend on Americans' increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
"Americans get their news about obesity by watching television or reading magazines and newspapers, which force the reader or viewer to assume a physically passive position," Fleder said. "This contributes to weight gain, which is then dutifully reported by the media. It's a vicious cycle."
Fleder said the trend could reverse itself if Americans had healthier diets and became more physically active.
"While reports have ballooned to hundreds of pages in length, there is hope," Fleder said. "If Americans improve their eating and exercise habits, obesity reports could quickly begin to drop in size, shedding as many as 20 to 30 pages a year, until they disappear altogether."
Fleder added that the media could also play a useful role by limiting obesity coverage to the later prime-time hours between 9 and 11 p.m., after the dinner hour.