America: The Dream vs. The Reality
Home of McDonald's and Genetically Modified Foods... that, is the American reality. Lack of nutrition in the American cuisine can be traced back to the early twentieth century, starting with the hearty classic of steak and potatoes. In fact, in most American dishes, meat and carbs are the main course. Sure, the human body needs both protein and carbohydrates to function at it's best, but here in America, the phrase 'everything in moderation' is something of a mystery.
According to the American Medical Association, approximately 68 percent of adults in the United States are obese. Some may think a couple extra pounds around the waistline may be harmless, but the underlining dangers of obesity cannot be overstated. In fact, $147 billion is spent annually on treating obesity and obesity related diseases – while obesity prevention is not even recognized in the budget.
Obesity should not be taken lightly, after all, you are what you eat.
The big C that had people running for the hills in the twentieth century was communism; but today, what we should be running from is consumerism. It's bad enough when our individual overspending leaves us short to make rent, but when our spending as a country leaves the planet short of sustainability? We should hang our heads in shame.
According to the American Consumer society, if everyone on Earth were to live an "American" lifestyle, we would need three planets to supply the resources.
As individuals, we also spend three to four times more on shopping than our European friends overseas. The combined mileage accumulated by American is nearly equivalent to that of the rest of planet combined. The root of the problem here is not so much overspending but a level of selfishness that we continue to culturally instill into each new generation.
So when you are making your fifth trip to the mall this month to find yet another new outfit, think about your brothers and sisters who live beyond our expensive borders. After all, don't they have as much a right to Earth's resources as we do?
How sendentary are you?
How many hours out of the day are you sitting down? (Working behind a desk, sitting in a classroom, or lounging on the couch... it adds up!!!)
3. a Sedentary Lifestyle
You just can't have obesity and overspending without a sedentary lifestyle. Americans, more than anyone else, choose to spend their time sitting behind a desk or lounging on the couch. According to the American Heart Association, Sedentary jobs have increased 83 percent since 1950 (which has also been directly linked to obesity). Obesity, largely resulting from sedentary lifestyles, costs companies an average of $225.8 billion annually in productivity losses that are health related.
Physically active jobs now make up only about 25 percent of the entire American workforce. Not only are the jobs becoming more sedentary based, but due to our technological advancement, free time is also being used for more sedentary based activities.
And to travel between work and home (no matter the distance), most Americans will choose driving over walking- either because they don't have the time, or they don't have the energy.
TIME magazine revealed that sitting for more than three hours a day can actually cut an entire two years off a persons life expectancy, regardless of whether you exercise regularly or not.
There are little things throughout the day that we can do to decrease our time spent sitting down. So walk or ride your bike to work, go swimming or play frisbee, and replace you office chair with an exercise ball. It's about more than just losing weight, it's about not losing time. A lot can happen in two years, it would be a shame to let a sedentary lifestyle keep you from living your life to the fullest.
MEDIA ADDICTION =
A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE =
4. Media Addiction
Media addiction is where our obesity problem first to began. With the creation of the internet, and years later the creation of social media, people on a global scale began spending more time in front of a computer screen. Americans, however, seem to be spearheading this problem.
Mashable. com states that, on average, American adults spend 11 hours per day engaging in digital media of some kind. Television accounts for about five of those 11 hours. For the average working American, who spends eight hours a day at work, this leaves a mere five hours for which to sleep at night.
Since 2010, adult smartphone users have increased an entire 40 percent since 2010, children even more so. With Angry Birds and other games growing in their popularity among younger consumers, children are replacing activities such as building forts and playing tag with the newest model of the iPhone or iPad.
It's no wonder that obesity is taking hold at earlier and earlier ages.
5. Education (or Lack There Of)
Despite it's availability to every child in the United States, education just simply is not high on the American list of priorities. Thirteen percent of American 17-year-olds are illiterate (reformed.org), and it's not because the schooling isn't available, it's because teachers and parents are not putting in the effort needed to ensure that every child is keeping up with their studies.
According to studentsfirst.org, in 2009, a third of students scored at 'below basic' on the National Assesment of Education Progress (NAEP). The problem has continued to grow, and in the 2011-2012 school year, 48 percent of U.S. school's were not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) according to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates.
In relation to 30 other countries around the globe, United States students rank 25th in math permormance. Despite having education for all, the U.S. still ranks lower than schools without public education.
This is a problem that starts both within the home and within our government. Public officials should be devoting more funds toward education, and parents should be giving their children books instead of iPads.