obesity

Americans have been getting larger by the day, and a lot of Americans are wondering why, but this isn’t just an American problem now. It’s becoming a global issue! According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global obesity has doubled since 1980! Why has obesity increased on a global scale for the past 30 years? I’d like to quote an article about obesity that the World Health Organization published last year:

The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Globally, there has been:

  • an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat; and
  • an increase in physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization.

Changes in dietary and physical activity patterns are often the result of environmental and societal changes associated with development and lack of supportive policies in sectors such as health, agriculture, transport, urban planning, environment, food processing, distribution, marketing and education.

There it is in a nutshell. According to the WHO, the basic answer as to why the world’s population is gaining weight is due to poor diet and exercise. I feel that they are boiling it down to two variables: calories in and calories out. If you are eating more calories than what your body can metabolize, then chances are you are gaining weight.

But why are people living in developed nations, such as the United States, gaining more and more weight each year? The short answer to that question is larger portion sizes, poor diets, and not getting enough exercise. It’s not just an American health issue or diet now, obesity is a global issue!

Larger Portion Sizes

In a recent study, the United States Department of Agriculture says that Americans are eating 20% more food than they used to since 1983, and there’s a strong correlation between larger portion sizes and fast foods. Restaurants, especially fast food chains, have not only increased the amount of fried foods that they sell on their menus, but they also have increased how much food comes with each meal (increased portion sizes).

They do this to in order to compete with other restaurants. Why would you go to one place that offers less food and fewer options than a place that gave you more food for the same price? We want more for less, and companies everywhere try to keep up with that simple principal without thinking about the consequences to the human body. It’s not just their fault, however. Who ultimately chooses to go to the restaurant that offers more food for the same price? We do.

Poor Diet

I don’t care what other countries have to say about us, but Americans are hard working, goal driven, and detail oriented. We are also the most productive country on the planet. We work our butts off at work. While some countries work less hours, get more days off, and get more benefits, Americans don’t have the time to complain about it. We get things done, and we wanted it done yesterday!

That is why we pay for convenience. We pay for companies to fry food for us because it’s quick and tastes so good. Americans also pay for processed food. This is bad for us, we know, but at least it lasts longer than other foods, and some argue that it tastes better. If there’s an ingredient that you can’t pronounce or a chemical that preserves food to last through a nuclear winter, then you probably shouldn’t eat it!

We need to change our diet. Americans need to stop eating out so much and start eating fresh fruits and vegetables. We also need to stop eating processed meat and dairy. Did you notice that our children are developing at a much younger age than we did? Some health experts believe that it’s due to the hormones fed to animals to make them grow faster and larger. These hormones that we feed animals are the same hormones found in some meat and dairy that we consume at the supermarket. It’s a shame that organic food is more expensive, otherwise we would probably be a healthier nation.

Lack of Exercise

There has been a huge change in how Americans work over the years. We are working in different jobs than we used to. Americans used to get their daily exercise at their jobs, especially prior to the Civil War when more than half of Americans were working on a farm. Have you ever worked on a farm without modern machinery? It requires a lot of exercise!

Today, almost 67% of the country is working behind a desk. Do desk jobs require a lot of exercise? You bet they don’t! We don’t see people gaining a six pack while working at the office. When was the last time that you saw your coworkers run laps around the office and lift heavy machinery, at least until the 4-in-1 printer breaks?

Add the average 8 hour office job to the average 25 minutes of commuting time for Americans, and you get a recipe for fast weight gain. Who wants to work at an office for 8 hours per day, 5 days a week, drive 25 or more minutes to and from work, then come home and run laps around the neighborhood? You know what most people want to do? They want to go home and relax, maybe do some errands around the house before they go out and buy fast food, then go to bed. Are you starting to see a pattern yet?

How Can We End the Cycle?

What’s the best way to end the vicious cycle that is obesity? You could quit your job, invent a time machine, and travel back in time to the good old days where you would have to do everything by hand, or you could simply decrease the portion size to the right amount, eat healthier foods, and exercise more.

You should walk at least 20 minutes per day! Walking is better on your joints than running, so try walking faster with adding resistance bands or weights to increase the difficulty. If you have severe joint pain, then try swimming. It’s a lot easier on your joints than walking, and it burns more calories!

If you are among the 67% of Americans who work at an office, then you could try getting up every 15 minutes or so and power walk around the office. Are you afraid that your coworkers will look at you funny? Tell your coworkers that you lost 15 pounds since you started power walking around the office and they won’t think that you’re crazy!

The choice is yours, but imagine how famous you would be if you could invent a working time machine! That’s also assuming your time machine can travel back to the future too, unless you want to be stuck building a pyramid due to a slight miscalculation in the flux capacitor.

 

Let’s Hear From You!

Are you struggling with your weight? What have you tried to do in order to lose weight? Did you try to go on a special diet? Did you change up your exercise routine? Were you unable to exercise for any reason? What time in your life did you gain the most weight? Some of us have heard about gaining the freshman 15, but did that happen to you after you graduated from high school? Do you need help getting motivated? How would you like to lose weight: exercise alone, with a few friends and family, would you prefer to go to the gym, or would you rather go outside and be active?

I didn’t gain weight until well into my junior year in college where I gained almost 30 pounds. I abruptly stopped all athletics and focused on school work, and my dorm became conveniently close to the buffet style cafeteria. The problem with abruptly stopping sports is that you still have that stomach and appetite to eat a lot of food.

Unfortunately, it gets to the point where you don’t notice that you gained all that weight until you see a before and after photo of yourself. It’s like a frog in hot water. You know that you’re gaining weight, but you don’t see yourself as gaining a lot of weight because you always look in the mirror, so it’s hard to tell when you gain a pound each week. Most people won’t say anything to spare your feelings. My advice would be to keep an accurate scale in your dorm or at home to keep track of your weight, especially after you stop being active!