Full disclosure here. I’ve been camped on this topic for a long time now. Sometimes ideas come to me and they are easy to write off the cuff. Others require a bit of time to brew in my head and yet some I’m just left pondering how to deliver the message. This is usually when a topic is a wee bit controversial or “not politically” correct or whatever term can be applied.
Since I’m one who is fairly comfortable speaking my mind, I won’t hold back.
When I saw the quote above it was one of those things that resonated with me immediately. Mainly because the truth of it in our culture and society today is so true.
Food has become the drug of choice for many and it’s taking a toll on their health and living a energetic lifestyle. This drug also has the ability to end lives with the diseases that obesity brings with it. Food is a socially acceptable way to often medicate things deep inside yet it doesn’t fix the problems a person deals with.
With obesity at an all time high in adults and more disturbingly in children, some are eating their way to the grave. Unfortunately, food is often mindlessly, mechanically consumed and in quantities beyond what is needed to satisfy our hunger.
With restaurants and food establishments offering larger and larger portions or the “super sizing” we are super sizing ourselves into obesity and the joy of carting around extra fat on our bodies. This taxes our heart and lungs, puts excessive work on our joints, causes our organs to work hard to compensate for the excess which then causes our body to develop ( very preventable diseases)
According to the CDC (Centers for disease control) Nearly 4 in 10 adults have a body mass index classifying them as obese. Young Americans as well have been piling on the pounds and obesity rates among the country’s youth ( 2-19) stands at 18.5 percent. This trend is most worrying as young people are far more likely to stay obese while childhood obesity is linked to a higher chance of early death in adulthood. More troubling yet, 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese making people with normal weight a minority.
But wait… it’s not just an American problem….
Globally there are more people ( children and adults) who are obese than underweight – this occurs in every region except parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight.
Some key facts
- Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.
- In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 650 million were obese.
- 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese.
- Most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
- 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2016.
- Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016.
- Obesity is preventable
So why are people getting so fat?
Being over weight, simplified, is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.
Worldwide there has been an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat; ( think fast foods, overly processed, high calorie, refined sugars etc. ) and an increase in physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization. And sadly let’s not forget an overall laziness or desire to just not physically exert ourselves.
So basically, we’re shoveling in more food, and not the good kinds, and moving our bodies less and less.
It’s the perfect storm for disaster.
Are there common health consequences for obesity and being overweight?
Yes. Our bodies are not designed to handle excessive fat and often develop diseases because of this.
- cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2012;
- musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints);
- some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon).
- high blood pressure
And what about our kids?
Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. But in addition to increased future risks, obese children experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and psychological effects.
My brother was overweight as a young adult. Children are awful in how they treat others. The psychological effects can be huge for kids.
How do we fix the problem?
First and foremost, someone has to have the desire to change patterns, habits, and behaviors that have led to obesity or being overweight. Without a personal desire nothing will change.
Overweight and obesity, as well as their related diseases, are largely preventable.
Preventable meaning we have control of them. Meaning we can change things if we don’t let it get to far. There are things you might not have control over, but maintaining a healthy weight is something for the most part, we can all have a measure of control over.
Supportive environments and communities are fundamental in shaping people’s choices, by making the choice of healthier foods and regular physical activity the easiest choice (the choice that is the most accessible, available and affordable), and therefore preventing overweight and obesity.
As adults we are in control of the choices we make, good or bad. If we have children then we are responsible for the foods we buy and provide for them. If high fat, sugary foods are the mainstay of what’s available, they will be consumed. Children cannot go buy their own food so we must be mindful of providing them with the most nutritionally sound foods that we can. Treats aren’t bad, but they should be limited. If certain foods aren’t available in the home they can’t be consumed.
The same goes for us. If we limit/control the amount of non-nutritional foods we bring home, we won’t eat them.
I told hubby when we were shopping recently that I know and fully understand if I bring home a bag of salt and pepper kettle potato chips, it’s the equivalent to bringing home crack to a druggie.
I just can’t be trusted with them. The best thing then is that I don’t buy them, and if I do, I fully accept the consequences.
Steps to take in losing weight
On an individual level we can:
- limit energy intake from total fats and sugars;
- increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts; and
- engage in regular physical activity. Find something you enjoy and do it. Do it most days of the week. Children need to be moving and should be encouraged to participate in sports and other activities to keep them healthy and work off excess energy 😉
- limit the amount of fast foods or overly processed foods eaten.
- Try to eat more natural foods without things added to them.
- Develop a balanced and sensible nutrition plan.
- Plan a 1-2 lb loss a week.
Keep a healthy perspective
Keeping your goals small and realistic will lead to success. Understand building new habits and behaviors will take time but they will be worth having to help you live a permanent lifestyle of health and wellness.
Accept good and bad days on your journey but don’t quit. Keep moving forward every day celebrating all your body can do for you.
Make small consistent changes. Don’t go for the “all or nothing” or drastically cut all things you love from your daily nutrition.
Get friends or family on board to have a support system to help you. Often it is hard to do something like this on our own, having others who can hold you accountable, ask you how you are doing and celebrate your successes with you can help tremendously.
If you and your family need to lose weight, brainstorm on how you can work together as a team to reach goals individually and as a group.
Finally, be patient with yourself and learn to celebrate each step along your journey and before you know it, you will have reached your goals your set for yourself.
What healthy practices do you use? Do you think the super sizing of foods has contributed to obesity problems? Do you think food is often used to medicate feelings or emotions?