We have heard about the threat of obesity across America being thrown around so much on the news that it’s become like white noise. I want to talk to you about the real implications of the rise of obesity in our country and whether or not America is ready to tackle the problem head-on.
Did you know that obesity has tripled in prevalence over the past three decades? I want you to understand the distinction between being overweight and being obese. Being overweight indicates an excess of body weight to height where being obese would indicate a surplus of fat caused by a continued excessive consumption of food. Unfortunately, there are many reasons that someone overeats to the point of becoming obese including boredom, depression, stress and anxiety or being raised in a household where this is the norm. With resulting health issues including hypertension, cancer, diabetes, and depression, it is an epidemic that needs an immediate intervention.
American’s insistence on instantaneous gratification in all facets of their lives has led to the fast food revolution and an increasing dependence on foods filled with high amounts of sodium, sugar and high fructose corn syrup. But, neither fast food chains nor companies who make their money peddling sugary snacks are going anywhere. And, this cycle of family obesity will continue unless you put a stop to it yourself in your own lives.
There is a silver lining though…in a recent survey run by the Dong D. Wang of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and coauthors found that, from 1999 through 2012, healthier quality of diet cumulatively prevented 1.1 million premature deaths. Americans are taking a stand and insisting on having healthy options on menus, regardless of where they choose to dine. By the end of 2016, the Federal Government has mandated that menus have the nutritional content listed next to food items which allows people to make educated decisions about what they choose to ingest.
And, that, right there, is the crux of the problem: education. Most people just don’t know how to choose a healthy option from an unhealthy one. Take a smoothie, for example. It’s fruit and yogurt…what’s bad about that? The extra sugar content in the mixes many companies use in their smoothies turn something that sounded healthy into a sugar spiking beverage. It’s important for Americans to learn to distinguish between what sounds healthy and what really is healthy. Luckily, more schools are incorporating health and nutrition into their physical education programs so that we can battle the problem as early as possible and rewire what our kids think of as “good” food.