Right now in the US, about one-third of the population is obese. This wasn't the case 30 years ago. Sometime between then and now, we changed the way we eat. So what happened?
We know why so many people are obese. Too much food, with lots of calories, over-processed with lots of sugar and unhealthy fats. And lack of physical activity is also takes part of the blame.
But why did this happen? What was the tipping point that turned us into a bunch of chubby lemmings ready to plummet off the cliff into an abyss of obesity-related chronic disease? And more important now -- what is the tipping point that will get us back to a healthy weight?
Think about a typical day, How many people ...
... start the day with sugary cereals, maybe some frozen things that heat up in the toaster? Maybe just grab a cup of coffee or a bottle of Mountain Dew and a donut? Eeww. What a way to start the day.
... eat too much at work? Vending machines offer fattening snacks, and it is easy to eat a candy bar or snack cake with your morning coffee. What about lunch? Off to the closest fast food joint for artery-clogging burgers and fries.
... give up on dinner? It's been a long day at work and now it is time to make dinner for the family. Ugh. Maybe just stop for take-out, grab a bucket of fried chicken or order a big pizza. After dinner it is time to veg out in front of the HDTV where we are barraged with ads for snacks, sodas and more fast foods. Off to the kitchen for a bag of Doritos anyone?
What else has changed over the last thirty-something years? When I was a kid we filled the car's tank at a gas station. Now we stop for gas at a convenience store and while there, we fill our own tanks with some of the worst junk foods. It's just too easy to step inside for a donut, a slice of pizza or a giant soda for the ride.
Portion sizes have increased too. We drink soda in 20-ounce bottles instead of 12-ounce cans, restaurant portions are huge and I think a lot of people have just gotten used to eating more food at each meal.
What about physical activity? When I was kid in the 70's, we had physical education in school every day. That isn't the case anymore. Plus more kids play video and computer games in the house, instead of going outside.
Maybe we aren't as active at home either. Thirty years ago, we didn't have remote controls for our TVs so we had to get up and walk across the room to turn the dial. And we didn't have a cell phone in our pocket -- we had to run to answer the phone in the other room. But did those little bits of activity make much of a difference in our calorie burning back in the day? Maybe, if you add them up over time. Something certainly was different - it wasn't common to belong to a health club and we didn't have VCRs yet -- Buns of Steel and other exercise tapes were a long way off.
So what else has changed that makes over-eating so easy? Leave your ideas in a comment below.
Shereen has been the About.com Guide to Nutrition since 2004.
During her practice as a nutritionist and as a chiropractic physician for 16 years, Shereen saw how eating healthy foods (or not-so-healthy foods) impacted her patients' well-being every day. She decided that she wanted to reach a larger audience so she left practice to become a health and nutrition writer as well as the nutrition guide for About.com. Shereen is a member of the American Dietetic Association.
Shereen has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut and she was previously certified as a Certified Nutrition Specialist. She also has a doctor of chiropractic degree from Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Bloomington, Minnesota.
From Shereen Jegtvig:
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September 9, 2008 at 2:43 pm
(1) Phyllis says:
This article got me thinking. I just turned 60 this year (2008), and I can remember how things were back when I was a kid. People weren’t radically different, but the lifestyle was definitely more active. Not in an “extreme athlete” way either, life just required more moving.
I don’t remember when my thinking changed to the “I don’t have to exercise, technology will give me a better and longer life” mentality, but somehow that became my motto. The only problem is that it isn’t true. Technology may or may not give me a longer life, but health-wise, my life is absolutely NOT better. All my joints hurt, and I have several chronic diseases; the most dangerous one is Type 2 diabetes.
I never imagined my life would be a cautionary tale for others, but since it is, I encourage everyone under the age of 40 to start moving. Give yourself the best gift anyone can receive, the gift of good health. Walking 30 minutes each day isn’t any more time consuming than going to a doctor’s appointment or physical therapy, and the benefits are unbelievable. Take it from an old geezer who’s been there.
Another Great Article by Shereen Jegtvig. I agree with Phyllis, Just a little a bit a day does wonder. Put down that pop, cigarettes and potato chips down. Make a fresh salad with walnuts, blueberries, onions, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and don't forget the lettuce. Eat some pita with hommus and take a walk like Phyllis does. You have to put the TV guide down and walk a minimum of 30 minutes a day, and try to work up to about 1 hour a day. I think if more people would stop watching TV and get out and walk they wouldn't see their belly's over their belt loop. I know that might be harsh. But this is reality and more people have strokes, heart attacks especially in Michigan where I live. Most people wonder why they are sick all the time. Well for one thing they eat junk food all day. Get out an exercise and you will realize it doesn't take much time to accomplish this. Another thing that other people can do is take enzymes and colon cleanser to clean themselves out. The belly stores feces and most people can't digest their food. Even oatmeal is hard for the body break it down. So enzymes help break down that matter. Most people don't understand that they are brainwashed at a young age to do this behavior. But the little steps you will surprised at the accomplished that these steps take.
By Ray Gollis
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