Obesity: Mississippi's Epidemic
We all know the South is famous for is food. But did you know it was becoming famous for something else? The south is fat and getting fatter. In Mississippi it has grown into an epidemic. For the past five years Mississippi has held the title with 32.5% of the population of the state considered obese. The rate has increased every year. Also 44.4% of the children in Mississippi aged 10 to 17 are overweight. That's almost half of the children in Mississippi.
There are numerous health risks associated with being overweight. These include and are not limited to, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and malnourishment. I added malnourishment because people who over-eat typically eat high sugar, high fat nutritionally sparse foods like fast food which can lead to anemia, vitamin deficiencies, and high cholesterol.
WHAT IS OBESITY?
Obesity is determined by using height and weight to calculate a number called the "body mass index" (BMI). A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI 30 and above is considered obese. I will use my BMI as an example. I am 5'3" and wiegh 130lbs. My BMI:23, 18.5-24.9 is considered normal weight status. Below 18.5 is considered underweight. This the most used calculation to measure weight and height ratios. You can find a BMI calculator easily by just typing BMI in your word search engine.
Obesity contributes highly to the skyrocketing costs of healthcare. Who or what is to blame for this? There are several factors that contribute to the growing problem.
SOCIO ECONOMIC STATUS
When you go to the grocery store and compare prices have you ever noticed it's cheaper to buy a bag of potato chips than it is to buy a couple of pounds of fresh produce? Next time you go to the grocery store check this out.
People buy more of what will go farther for their dollar. Some folks are already ill from the effects of improper nutrition and maintaining a proper weight that they need all sorts of medicines to counteract these health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. These folks can't afford fresh produce so they are buy processed foods that are cheaper with less nutritional value and high fat and sugar (not to mention preservatives). It's just a vicious circle.
Fast foods are easier and cheaper than buying groceries and making a meal. I have to hand it to the fast food industry though they are trying to offer healthier alternatives on their menu. Although I find the quality is a bit lacking. The schools are offering more nutritious lunches. My child's school does not allow parents to bring fast food to the kids a lunch time.
My Question is why and when did processed junk food become cheaper than the healthy foods?
LACK OF EXERCISE
Lack of exercise is a big problem. Walking just 30 to 40 minutes a day at a good pace (enough to get your heart rate up) will help maintain a healthy weight. Children are the biggest concern here. Sitting in front of a television or video game for hours id not checked. Children are simply not getting enough cardiovascular exercise.
Children need the same amount or more of exercise that adults need for their cardiovascular health. To burn excess calories and support the muscular and bone development. This means at least 30 to 490 minutes of exercise that raises the heart rate daily.
OVER FILLING THE TANK
Eating more calories than needed is a big problem. There are hidden caloies in many foods, especially junk foods. Many people aren't aware that a candy bar has about 250 calories and a bottle of soda has about the same. A candy bar and a coke for a snack is probably over 500 calories. The equivalent to the calorie content of a dozen small apples.
Read the labels on the food you buy. They will tell you calories per serving as well as fat content. It's a good idea to know roughly the amount of calories in the food that your are eating. Teach your children to read food labels too. Not only will they be practicing their reading skills but learning a lesson in nutrition too.
IS THERE A SOLUTION?
Education and making healthy food choices easier to afford is a start. The governor had a campaign called "let's go walkin' Mississippi". I am not sure what happened to that campaign. I haven't seen or heard any more promotion. It was apparently geared to get Mississippians out and active. Mississippi still made the the top of the list. Let me remind you that these statistics only cover the obese adults in the study. There are countless others considered overweight.
Remember to read food labels and get active. Reduce your calorie intake and make healther food choices. Always consult a physician before embarking on an exercise and diet regime.
Copyright © 2010 Tammy Lochmann
Some Helpful Links
- Calculate your BMI - Standard BMI Calculator
- Obesity In America: Is The Fast Food Industry To Blame?
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- When Being Overweight Is a Health Problem
A couple of pounds of extra body fat are not a health risk for most people. But when people are severely overweight, it can cause health problems.
- Southern Sassafras
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