Why is America Fat?
I touched on a bit of that yesterday when I talked about Nutrients in Food. The question Why is America Fat is not an easy question to answer. As I said in another blog, it used to be that the wealthy and more educated people were fat, simply because they had more food to eat and had easier jobs. The uneducated people and laborers were skinny or even anorexic. Now, that situation has basically reversed itself, although you can’t say that economic and education levels are the only factors. After all, I have a BS in Civil Engineering. So, I do consider myself fairly well educated, and although my job wasn’t intensely labor intensive all the time, it wasn’t solely a desk job either. I was out on construction projects quite a bit, especially early in my career. Also, the South has higher obesity rates than other places, but it isn’t in all people groups in the South, and it cuts across all socioeconomic lines. It seems, based on what I’ve seen and read, obesity rates also cut across ethic lines as well. So, why is it that chairs are getting larger, airline seats are getting larger and we are seeing more and more obese people all around us. I was watching a TV show the other night and it was showing a group of school of children and it hit me…most of them were overweight at best and some were even obese. When I was in school, obese children were rare and overweight was not very common. What happened? Why the shift?
How did America get Fat?
It seems it is a combination of many things. Our politically correct society now tells us we need to accept everybody and to not hurt anyone’s feelings. This has caused us to be accepting even of things that are harmful to our neighbors, brothers and sisters and even ourselves. We can no longer call a spade a spade. So, we overlook behaviors in ourselves and others that are destructive. Restaurants serve portions that should easily be served to two, possibly three people (I rarely get a “to go box” for my leftovers because there usually are none). There are endless rows of “all you can eat” restaurants on top of all of that. We don’t eat regular meals and snacks to prevent hunger or going into “starvation mode”. Our food isn’t as nutrient dense as it used to be. Nutrient Density is a relation of nutrients in food vs. the amount of calories. We eat more processed foods because it is readily available and it is cheap. There are “dollar menus” now at nearly every fast food restaurant and there are fast food restaurants on nearly every corner. Take all of that and couple it with a lack of activity, desk jobs, many many hours of sitting, bombardment of advertising making it so appealing and virtually no exercise, and what you get is a recipe for disaster. It is no wonder we are getting fatter and fatter. It’s not just a matter of looking bad. It’s a matter of health, vitality, quality of life and also of National Security as over 9 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 are too fat to be allowed to serve in the military. We are getting “too fat to fight”.
How do we Reverse the Trend of America getting Fatter?
Again, that is not an easy question to answer. The first part is obviously education, but not in the sense of getting a High School or College Education, but education as to what food is for. Food should be used for Fuel and not Fun. We tend to reward ourselves with food as well. It’s ok to do that occasionally but not all the time. All social events have food at their center. It is so easy to overeat. The more we educate ourselves and then are allowed to hold each other accountable, the better off we will be. Part of that educational process is getting people to understand that most of the stuff we put in our mouths does not pass for “food”. It is processed and full of chemicals. For instance, anything that has “hydrogenated” in the description is generally bad for you (check your peanut butter label). I saw a show with Tony Horton on it and he said we need to get back to eating foods that have one ingredient. That gets better the more you think about it. Whole foods, not processed foods. And, if you can’t pronounce it, or it has dyes and flavorings added, you may want to not eat that too. There are other things you can do but that is a start on the food. The other thing is to plan meals, eat only what you need and not what you want, and drink plenty of water. Sometimes the body mistakes thirst for hunger. Most people walk around in a state of dehydration and instead of drinking water, they eat to attempt to satisfy that thirst.
The second part is obvious also. Get up and do SOMETHING!! It doesn’t matter what you do to start, but start doing something. Take the stairs at work. Park father away from the store and walk instead of riding around for 3o minutes looking for a spot close to the door. Get up and move around. You can also get on a workout program that will start you off slowly and ramp you up. Then, you need a community of people to help hold you accountable. One thing that held me accountable was helping other people by becoming a Beachbody Coach. I tied my wallet to my waistline so it also held me accountable. The bottom line is do something about it. Come along with us, enjoy the ride. Help us End The Trend of Obesity in the United States.