Ahh, fall is upon us, and with it comes football season. As many fans know all too well, the life of a favorite team has an ebb and flow, seasons of winning and all-too-often dry spells where wins are tough if not impossible to find. A team in the doldrums can take literally years to recover. These are teams of a few dozen players, and a culture of winning is essential to success on the field. It simply takes time and is not something that can be accomplished overnight. Likewise, teams can develop a culture of losing that must be reversed. Similarly, Americans have developed a culture of gaining that will not easily disappear.

Over the past 30 years, overweight and obesity levels have skyrocketed. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) found 47% of Americans overweight and 15% obese in the mid-1970s; by 2003, 66% were overweight and 32% obese. Among young people, NHANES says 19% of six- to 11-year-olds are overweight. The health consequences are enormous: the Centers for Disease Control recently warned that, if children's current eating habits persist, 30%-40% will eventually have diabetes.

No state has fewer than 16% of adults qualifying as obese, and the number is closer to 25% in many states. The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors says 46 had obesity rates greater than 20%, three over 30%, in 2005. In the midst of this, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set a goal of reducing obesity levels nationwide in adults to 15% or less of the population in states by 2010.

This may be an admirable goal but, at risk of being pessimistic, an overly ambitious one at best--and outright lunacy, at worst. This is a condition that has only exacerbated over the past 30 years, one that has shown barely a hint of slowing, much less declining, after numerous efforts. Such a dramatic reversal over the next three years (less than 10% of the time it took to reach this predicament) is simply impossible for a number of reasons, most notably the seeming lack of concern on the part of most Americans. Overcoming this will require education (a team effort on the part of industry, government, educators, etc.) as well as an understanding of personal responsibility. Neither of these items is cultivated overnight but, until this atmosphere is reversed, do not expect to see a losing streak.