I recently wrote a blog post, An apple a day, and stated that I was going to begin a mini blog series on the importance of a healthy life style. So, I figured I should begin the series with the problem.
Disclaimer: in NO way is this article attempting to be insensitive or hurtful but merely factual, based off scietific research.
The problem: Obesity. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat.
Would you like to know a disturbing fact? According to the National Health Institute, more than two-thirds (yes, greater than 68%) of Americans are considered either over weight or obese. Let me spell this out for you- approximately 72 million Americans are considered overweight or obese. The tool used to classify a person as underweight, healthy weight, over weight, or obese is the BMI (body mass index). BMI is a value derived from the mass and height of an individual. Unfortunately, BMI does not take into account muscle mass, so some of the results can obviously be skewed. (For example, my dad who is 5’10”, 185 pounds and fit, is considered over weight.) For additional information on BMI, please read this article from the CDC.
With that being said, obesity remains an epidemic in America, causing higher medical costs and a lower quality of life. Obesity has become a top public health concern in the United States, as well as other resource-rich economies, over the past few decades. Shocking, right? Not.
Medical Complications of Obesity.
Source: Adapted from Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
And would you like to hear the most unfortunate part about the rising obesity rates in America? Approximately one-third of children and adolescents in the United States are either overweight or obese. To me, this is heart breaking. For children and adolescents having one obese parent increases the risk of obesity by two to threefold, and up to 15-fold if both parents are obese. Wow.
So, with that being said, let’s take a look at a few of the problems that are a leading cause of the current obesity epidemic occurring in this great nation of ours
1. Portion sizes.
Bigger is better- right?
No. Not when it comes to the subject of food.
How many times have you been out to eat at a restaurant and you are astonished by the amount of food they serve to you?! Half way through the meal and you have to unbutton your pants just to be comfortable. (Come on- I’m not the only one who has been victim to this.)
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American ate almost 20% more calories in the year 2000 than they did in 1983. Woah.
2. What we eat.
It’s easier, and significantly cheaper to eat unhealthy than it is to eat healthy. This is a crime. Seriously.
Foods higher in fat, calorie content, and sugar are readily available to eat. Just check out your local gas station or vending machine.
Marketing- those sneaky people. Tell me, when is the last time you saw a billboard or advertisement for an apple, or a plate with grilled chicken, rice, and broccoli? Oh that’s right- you haven’t. Unhealthy foods are highly advertised in America, and they are enticing, there is no doubt about that.
Sugary drinks (soda, energy drinks, etc.) are highly popular all around the country. Everything you consume, yes, even drinks, directly affects your health. A single can of Coke contains 58.5 grams of carbohydrates, that is 58.5 grams of sugar! Crazy.
Inactivity is the new norm. We are in an age where we are obsessed with technology. It is easier to stay home, watch TV, play on the computer, have your phone or iPad glued to your hands, and play video games than it is to go outside and run, ride a bike, go to the gym or play a sport.
When I was growing up I remember every day after school my brother and I would go outside with the other kids in the neighborhood and PLAY. On the weekends we were either at the soccer or baseball fields, and then back home to play more. I hardly ever see kids outside playing anymore.
Yes, genetics can play a role in obesity. According to The Mayo Clinic, a person’s genes may affect the amount of body fat they are able store, as well as where that fat is distributed.
As a healthcare professional, I feel like there is a significant amount of education that we can provide to our patients and community in regards to a healthy lifestyle. With providing education regarding healthy eating choices and simple exercises, we can begin to fight this obesity epidemic that is taking over America.
Stay tuned for the next post on Healthy Living.