Obesity in America

Finding balance in our lives.

It seems that in western society today, those of us who live healthy lives by eating nutritionally sound meals and who exercise on a regular basis are becoming a minority within our population. Everywhere you cast a glance, you will see full parking lots at restaurants, and long lines in fast food drive through’s. When we enter any type of store, whether it is our normal grocery store or a convenience store, we are bombarded by the sights of sugar and fat laden treats on every aisle or end cap. Our shopping experience has become a healthy and fit individuals nightmare while morphing into a fat person’s nirvana.

Being overweight nowadays has become the norm, rather than the exception. It is not uncommon to meet people who take great pride in their sedentary and gluttonous lifestyles. Yet, these same individuals will sing the sad song once their lifestyles have trashed their health and sense of well being. And then, there is the greatest of ironies where the individual with health problems as a result of laziness coupled with an unhealthy diet wants a doctor to just give them medicines to “fix” them while refusing to be compliant with the  doctors orders. I once knew someone who refused to quit smoking despite being on oxygen just because “no doctor was going to dictate how they live their life”. For a large percentage of obese people, cakes and cookies have the same effect in regards to this kind of convoluted thinking as the smoker on oxygen who refuses to quit.

If you are a thinking person, you really have to ask why the hell in America, with all of our prosperity, with all the amenities that life has to offer us here, why in the world has the health status in our population been declining over the last few decades. How in the world did we lose our collective minds when it comes to healthy living? Why have our public schools quit teaching health and biology? Why are so many of our population entirely ignorant of the value of consuming healthy diets? In the last forty years, rates for overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions, and now, in the richest country on the planet, we lead the world in the incidence of cardiovascular disease. According to data from the the most recent National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, nearly two thirds of adults in America are over weight with a BMI of 25 or over, and over 30% of adults are obese with a BMI of 30 or greater. The incidence of this epidemic has spanned all racial and ethnic groups, all genders and age groups.

I find it sad that all these fat adults are also raising fat children. (I do not care if that pisses you off) The prevalence of fat children is growing by leaps and bounds, the US military is now having trouble recruiting 18 year old’s because they are too damned fat for military standards to even ship off to basic training. These children and young people are also suffering from ailments that used to be reserved for older adults whose lifestyles have caught up with them. Now we have children under 13 who have developed type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, respiratory problems along with psychological disorders such as depression. (1)  Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that in 2011 the average American consumed nearly one ton of food. That’s 1,996 pounds of food a year, and at least 1 in 4 people eat some type of fast food every day.

What are we doing about the obesity problem?

Well, we are not doing enough, and we are not taking the correct approach to obesity among our adults or children. As a society it might appear we are doing a lot to try to make an impact on the obesity epidemic, especially when you see all the bogus weight loss ads on all forms of media where they tell you that with their program or procedure, you can lose 30 pounds a month.  You have weight loss programs such as WW (formerly Weight Watchers) where they tell you that you can eat anything you want so long as your track it.

What do these programs and procedures have in common?

Their research and development know that there will be some people who will have their needs met, while a great many, if not a majority, are just going to be strung along as a perpetual income stream. The people who struggle year after year will never find success with their weight loss endeavors until they come to know their true nutritional needs, and become willing to change their lifestyles.

Does anyone really believe you can still eat bon bon’s while sitting on the couch and still lose weight if only you track them? Do you believe that fit points you earn by washing dishes or running your vacuum cleaner will justify reaching for a couple cookies out of the jar?

I have a bridge if you are in the market for one.

What is the government and medical approach to obesity?

Government and the medical community have initiated three responses to the growing obesity epidemic in America. These are:

Diets, Medical Interventions, and Exercise

Diets and medical interventions are the most popular interventions by far. Once again, we are saturated by media sources that advertise fad diets and medical procedures every day of the week. Yet, most of the people (about 95%)  who go these routes fail to keep their weight off.  Even with all the fad diets;

  • About three-fourths of the population have an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils.
  • Most Americans exceed the recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.

Diets and medical interventions are not the correct choices in combating the obesity epidemic. Rather, the most effective interventions are what people ignore to their own peril. People will go on a diet, hoping to just get it over with in a hurry in order to return to what got them fat in the first place. Instead of a diet, these people would get the most benefit out of incorporating a new lifestyle that emphasizes healthy eating and exercise as a daily routine. Exercise coupled with nutritionally sound dietary habits is the best thing you can do to improve the overall quality of your health and life. Even a brisk walk for 30 minutes per day will yield great results for you.

Why are diets and medical interventions the more popular choice than exercise for controlling body fat? 

Simply put, because they do not interfere with your life as much as making time for exercise. It has become simpler to pop a damn pill and to put the burden on others for your weight gain than it is to take personal responsibility and the time to do something meaningful about it. When you follow a diet and or pop a pill, you are placing the burden on another individual to blame when you fail.

You can follow a diet and fail to lose weight or to keep it off.

How many of you have done this and then blamed the diet as not being good?

By doing this you are shifting blame from yourself and placing it onto whoever came up with the diet scheme. You did not fail, the diet failed you, right?

You can get a stomach procedure or a prescription to the newest dietary drug. You might lose weight, stall out and then regain what you lost if not more so. The failure is on you, not the procedure or drug, if you approached these interventions without taking full personal responsibility for yourself.

This over simplifies getting fit and healthy to a degree, but really, at the end of the day you must do the opposite of that which got you fat in the first place.

Develop permanent healthy nutritional habits that fulfill all of your needs.

Quit eating sugar and simple carbs other than fruits which have a fiber component that regulates how the sugar enters your blood stream.

Quit eating processed foods of convenience that contain not only added sugar’s, but also contain unhealthy fats, high sodium and chemical preservatives.

Keep your body well hydrated.

Begin an exercise program with your doctor’s approval.  Take and dedicate at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week for exercise. If you can sit in drive through lanes for 30 minutes, you can easily dedicate the same time to your physical fitness.

Set achievable long term goals, and then create several short term goals in order to more easily get you to that long term goal.

Believe in yourself, you are more capable than you believe.

 

(1) Chris Carmichael, Food for Fitness

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