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The Obesity Epidemic and Its Health Dangers Affects Us All

Updated on February 2, 2018
Cyndi10 profile image

The former executive director of a successful nonprofit agency now content specialist, Cynthia writes about a variety of researched topics.

This type of figure poolside is becoming the norm, yet it is an indication of obesity.
This type of figure poolside is becoming the norm, yet it is an indication of obesity. | Source
Children no longer routinely play outdoors.
Children no longer routinely play outdoors. | Source

The Obesity Epidemic

Unless you live in some remote jungle, you are well aware that there is a dangerous upward trend in the number of Americans who are medically reported as obese. If the trend continues, over 40% of the American population will be obese by the year 2030. While in 2012, reports began to show that Americans may have slowed the rush towards a dangerous obesity epidemic that rivals any other type of epidemic in its intrinsic dangers, and although the figures show a slow down from the 1980s and 1990s, the figures are still huge, figuratively and literally. This is still a dangerous Obesity Epidemic looming and it affects us all.

A recent report has shown that obesity is affecting the longevity rates of all Americans, although there are differences by areas of the country. Some areas, in fact compare, to countries in other parts of the world and in some cases, America comes out the loser.

Even more alarming, this is an epidemic that is also affecting children at rates never seen before. What's worse, true obesity is showing up in children at even younger ages, with horrific health repercussions. Younger and younger children are presenting with Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to blindness, heart conditions, amputations and more, all diseases and problems that were once associated primarily with the elderly.

The Journal of Pediatric Research states that "socioeconomic factors and related lifestyles are critical to understanding the spread of overweight and obesity. These factors increase exposure to conditions that are negatively related to health, such as smoking, depression, and cultural influences connected to low physical activity."

The numbers look even worse when you break out the obesity statistics by different American cultures and ethnicity. African Americans have been at high percentages for some time, with 60% of the males and 78% of the women falling in the overweight category. Latinos are reporting high numbers as well, with 31% of the current population overweight.

In fact, all Americans, young and old, are now caught in some way by the effects of the obesity epidemic because many Americans now face growing cases of diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and resulting heart disease. The repercussions that affect us all are the links between poor health and obesity, manifested by early death and the skyrocketing cost of healthcare are consequences of this epidemic.

The very sad fact is that even though the obesity epidemic can be stopped and reversed, it seems that, at this moment, not enough people seem willing to make the major change in the way we think about and consume food or in our life style, nor are we making the headway needed to teach our children how to view food or to change their sedentary life style. In fact, schools are not helping as they cut physical education programs and classes, often the only source of exercise for some children. If this continues, today's child will be tomorrow's obese adult.

Eating in correct proportions can help stave off weight gain. The new food plate replaces the food pyramid for the healthy diet.
Eating in correct proportions can help stave off weight gain. The new food plate replaces the food pyramid for the healthy diet. | Source

Good News/Bad News about the Obesity Trend

It has been shown that immigrants from cultures without an overall obesity problem often become obese as they adopt some of the unhealthy habits exhibited by Americans. This further points to a health problem that can be reversed and changed. That runaway train can be stopped altogether.

There is a good news/bad news scenario with the same root cause. The good news is that food is not the only contributor to the obesity epidemic. The bad news is that food is not the only contributor to the Obesity Epidemic. What that means is that the cure is not one dimensional. It does not rest solely with a change in diet, although a change in your weight is unlikely if there's not a change in diet. Other factors also play a major role.

What You Can Do to Avoid Obesity and the Dangers Associated with It

Here are a few changes that you can make in order to help avoid becoming obese and to even decrease your weight:

1. Be mindful of what you eat. What do you like and eat the most of? Where do these foods fit on the food chart? If most of what you eat is shown in much smaller portions on the chart, then you need to move away from those marginal food and move to eating those foods that everyone should be eating plenty of. Foods like whole grain and vegetables should start dominating your diet. Foods that are loaded with sugar should start to shrink to nearly nothing. You should also manage your portions. Also be aware of when and why you eat. Are you eating because you are stressed or because you are hungry? It all becomes about a change in habits and not about focusing on some fad diet.

2. Practice calmness either through deep breathing or meditation or just relaxing during those times you feel most stressed rather than reaching for the chips or some other snack. Most Americans, including children, spend an inordinate amount of time stressed because of the multitude of demands faced everyday. Stress adds pounds, especially around the middle. Practice slowing down, purposefully. Don't automatically head to the fridge.

3. Lead an active life. You have heard it so many times before: "Get off that couch; get your kids off that couch." Look at is this way, the stars in those shows you're spending your couch time watching have made their money and, to add insult to injury, very few of them are obese. And the developers of those video games the kids are attached to have made their money already. Being a passive player in life is just not healthy!

4. Get proper amounts of sleep. Inadequate sleep can contribute to weight gain. If you have difficulty falling asleep, adopt some sleep inducing habits around bedtime. For example, bedtime is not the time squeezein your energetic weight lifting routine, instead read a book until you start to doze off.

5. If you don't already, start taking supplements. With the questionable eating habits most Americans have now adopted, we are bound to be missing many of the nutrients we need everyday for optimum health. Even when we are eating correctly, getting all you need can be a challenge. Supplements and nutritional drinks are an easy fix.

Consult your healthcare professional for assistance with any of these suggestions, especially when you add an exercise routine to your day. Most doctors and health care professionals are encouraging their patients to practice preventative health in hopes that they won't have to take care of preventable ills like heart problems and Type 2 diabetes. You don't have to take care of this problem alone if you are on that train ride to obesity.

While statics show there is slowing of the obesity epidemic, ultimately, to stop this runaway train and conquer this Obesity Epidemic, we must all take part in the cure. In fact, this is one epidemic we can't depend on the scientists and doctors in some isolated lab to solve with a vaccine or a pill any time soon. The solution to the obesity epidemic actually resides with us. Our future, our children's future, and our health depend on the steps we take now to educate ourselves about overeating versus healthy eating and about increasing the amount of movement and exercise we create each day.

Dance is great exercise

© 2012 Cynthia B Turner


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