The Obesity Epidemic

Granted it’s a sensitive topic and almost even taboo to discuss, but I’m going there anyway. When I hear projections such as one in three children will get diabetes in their lifetime unless they get more exercise and improve their diet, it’s time to get the dialogue going loud and clear. Obesity typically leads to multiple health risks including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Obesity has become a major health issue both diminishing our quality of life and straining our healthcare system.  Some fear the upswing of obesity related diabetes alone will break the bank of our healthcare system.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports one third of US adults are obese, weighing 26 more pounds than they did in 1950. Children and adolescents from ages 2-19 years have a 17% obesity rate.  All rates continue to increase at a quick pace across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups.  A National Institutes of Health report states from 1962 to 2006, obesity in adults more than doubled, from 13.4 percent to over one third.  Another third are overweight.  Since 1975 Americans with diabetes has more than tripled.

Our modern diet filled with processed and fast foods has caused a lot of suffering.   Fortunately, if we take responsibility as individuals, this is a national health problem we can prevent.  How did we get here and what can we do to stop this trend?

With subsidized corn in the 1980s came inexpensive high fructose corn syrup and cheap junk food ingredients flooding the market, making “super-sizing” possible.  Sadly, as taxpayers we pay millions of tax dollars annually to subsidize these practices.  The food industry has gotten really good at manipulating food. They use chemicals to make it taste great, with the right texture, color and smell to keep people over-consuming and craving. By spending billions of dollars advertising, and using appealing packaging, they have created a secure market for their highly profitable products.  Fast foods and chains compete by increasing portion sizes. Our bodies aren’t satisfied when we eat nutrient-deficient food; we overeat as our body signals for more food in search for nutrition.

These days, a typical diet includes larger meals filled with an increasing amount of low nutrient refined grains, red meat, unhealthy fats and sugary drinks along with less fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.  With this high calorie intake has come a more sedentary lifestyle.  Days past, survival required hard physical work; now we have more leisure and enjoy “screen time” – television, computers and smart phones.  To add to the injury, during much of that “screen time” advertisements bombard us encouraging us to keep eating!

This topic is so important and complex, it morphed into a four part series.

Image by – Huffpost Healthy Living, 11/5/13 “So This is Why Children are Craving That Fast Food


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