Photo From: Slim Genics
To go along with my diabetes article, I want to discuss the obesity epidemic. Obesity— a word we hear over and over again. We know the complications involved with it, yet we continue to do nothing about this nationwide condition. In 1990, only 15% of the adult population in the United States were considered obese. Now almost 78 million adults and 13 million children are struggling with obesity. “By 2010, 36 states had obesity rates of 25% or higher, and 12 of those states 12 of those had obesity rates of 30% or higher.” (1) Roughly two out of three adults are overweight or obese, which is 69% of the population. Obesity rates have stayed pretty steady since 2003, but the childhood obesity is continuing to grow at an alarming rate. One out of three adolescents ages 2-19 are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity increases the likelihood of adult obesity, heart disease and type two diabetes. Unanimously, the scientific community the causes of obesity is simple: overeating and under exercising.
Our body sends signals to our brain that says, “hey, we’re hungry.” Once you eat your brain will receive signals that will giving you the feeling of being full, and consequently you will stop eating. This system that sends and receives these critical messages is called the homeostatic system, and it is responsible for causing hunger at certain times during the day and preventing them during the night when we are asleep. We also have the reward system, which too can stimulate the feeling of hunger regardless of the last time you ate. This system is triggered by the smell or sight of food.
We have all experienced the reward system when you walk by an ice cream or donut shop after a big dinner. Despite moments earlier feeling stuffed, you all of a sudden have room to get a sweet treat. When people allow this reward system to win over self discipline too often they find themselves constantly overeating, which by no surprise leads to being overweight or obese. Being born and raised in the South, I understand how food is seen as love. My grandmothers are known for both their country cooking and baking, and they love to feed you when you visit. It’s okay to splurge every now and again. The issue comes when you overindulge on a consistent basis. In the society we live, fast food, processed and refined junk is an easy way to feed a family. The “crap food”, if you will, is cheap, and an obvious choice for those on a budget. Consumers can’t afford to pay outrageous prices for fruits, vegetables and lean meats. On the other hand, it cost much more for producers to make healthy, wholesome products than it does to turn out the bad foods. Prior to just a few generations, refined carbohydrates, genetically modified organisms and sugar added food simply were not popular. Americans were eating home cooked meals. Yes they may have been high in fat content, but their foods were fresh. People lived off the land, and bought local vegetables, fruits and meat. They didn’t rely on prepackaged or canned food sources.
Not only is our food market different than years past, but our daily task are changing as well. Previous generations had much more intensive physical labor, and exerted more energy on a daily basis. They didn’t have machines to do the work for them, and many of them didn’t have the forms of transportation that we do today. The did manual labor as opposed to computer work. They walked and biked to and from work instead of driving or taking the subway.
How can we make the change we desperately need to see? It’s rather simple, eat less, eat better and get active. I’m a strong believer in baby steps because quitting things cold turkey often leads to failure. Begin to incorporate more fruits as dessert and try to cut down on the ice cream. Look into making fresh kale chips as opposed to each bagged potato chips. A big one is cutting down and eventually cutting out sodas, and drinking more water. Another biggie in regards to changing your diet is limiting the eating out. Yes, it’s quick and easy, but you don’t know what all is in your food. You don’t know where their meat and veggies are from, and you don’t know what all they are adding to that food. You are almost always given far more than just one serving, and as a result unconsciously overeat. No matter how hard you workout you cannot overcome poor eating habits, but adding some form of physical activity is always good. Start with something reasonable like walking. There is no need to over do it on your first few weeks of a new exercise regimen, which will usually lead to an injury or getting burnt out. If you like dancing try a zumba class and modify to meet your ability level.
When working on your weight loss, remember that you didn’t put the weight on overnight, so don’t expect it to come off overnight. Be patient and keep working to reach your goals. Set realistic short term goals, and once you meet them then make new goals.