I, for one, welcome our new leviathan overlords.

3 06 2011

I was watching an old episode of The Simpsons the other day when I heard the following quote from cartoon anchorman Kent Brockman:

Kent Brockman :  Did you know that thirty-four million Americans are obese?  Taken together, that excess blubber could fill the Grand Canyon two-fifths of the way up.  That may not sound impressive, but keep in mind it is a very big canyon.

That statistic was made up, but it made me wonder how much excess blubber there really is in the US. In other words, if everybody who is overweight got liposuctioned down to a healthy weight right now, how much fat would we have to dispose of? Every day there’s a new report telling us that Americans can’t stop cramming fast food and donuts down their gaping pie holes. Just how much of those maple glazed treats and KFC Double Downs are stuck to our thighs and bellies right now? I looked up a few statistics.

From a 2008 CDC report:

The average adult male is  69.4 in tall.

The average adult male weighs 194.7 lb.

The average adult female is 63.8 in tall.

The average adult female weighs 164.7 lb.

If you look at this data from the perspective of Body Mass Index (BMI) you find that on average, both men and women have a BMI of 28.4. It’s no surprise that this number wriggles our plump behinds well into the “overweight” category. According to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. To get our average BMI as a country to a healthy 21.7 (right in the middle of the healthy range), each grown man would have to lose 45.7 lb and each woman 39.2. That’s a lot of extra fat!

To see just how much extra weight we’re carrying in total in the USA, I looked at some Demographic data from the US:

Adults age 20 and over account for 72.7% of the country’s 308,745,538 inhabitants.

There are 0.97 males for every female in the country.

If you crunch the numbers, you find that adults in this nation are carrying 4.32 BILLION KILOGRAMS (9.52 BILLION LBS) of extra fat! But how much fat is that really? Well, after considering that fat has a density of 900 kg/m^3, I can assert that we have this much blubber to spare:

  • Enough fat to cover the state of Rhode Island 1.5cm deep
  • Enough to submerge the island of Manhattan ankle deep  in a layer of sticky biohazardous goo (8 cm)
  • Enough to make a rope 2 cm in diameter that could reach to the moon.
Sadly though, The Simpsons got this one wrong- not just a little wrong, but a few orders of magnitude wrong. The Grand Canyon, with a volume of 4.17 trillion cubic meters, would not be filled 2/5 full. In fact, it would only be filled 0.0001% full. Why, Kent Brockman, why?
9.5 billion pounds you say?