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I was watching an old...
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|Dieting our Way to Obesity
Dieting our way to Obesity:
To say that Americans are obsessed with dieting is an
understatement! Pick up any magazine, or turn-on any source of
advertising and you're bombarded with the latest diet schemes
and food fads. More often than not, they are endorsed by some
familiar Hollywood celebrity. They are always fast, easier and
require no lifestyle change. They come in pills, capsules,
creams and supplements. They have one more thing in common, they
don't work. Obesity has grown by 20% in the last decade.
It's no mystery that the weight-loss industry has built a
thriving empire. In America, for example, we spend about 35
billion dollars every year on an assortment of weight loss
products and plans. In addition, we spend another 79 billion
dollars for medication, hospitalization, and doctors to treat
obesity-related problems. Even with this, the obesity epidemic
continues to spread. Sadly, we have become the heaviest
generation in our Nation's history.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that we have
some very good reasons to be concerned about our weight-gain.
Americans, for example are packing-on the pounds faster than
ever before and weight-related medical problems are taking
center stage. Diseases like heart disease, diabetes and certain
forms of cancer have all been linked to obesity.
Here are a few of the surprising statistics about our weight:
- A whopping 64 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or
obese. That's up approximately 8 percent from overweight
estimates obtained in a 1988 report.
- The percent of children who are overweight is also continuing
to increase. Among children and teens ages 6-19, 15 percent or
almost 9 million are overweight. That's triple what the rate was
- Nearly one-third of all adults are now classified as obese. At
present, 31 percent of adults 20 years of age and over or nearly
59 million people have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater,
compared with 23 percent in 1994.
Modern life has come to revolve around moving from one "seated"
position to another: whether it's television, computers, remote
controls, or automobiles, we seem to be broadening the scope of
our inactive endeavors.
At times, life seems to have gotten almost too easy! For
entertainment, we can now just sit-down, dial-up our favorite TV
program or DVD movie and enjoy hours of uninterrupted
entertainment... using the remote of course.
And all those simple calorie burning activities that were once a
normal part of our daily routine not so long ago? Long gone! You
know the ones I'm talking about...activities like climbing
stairs instead of using escalators and elevators. Or, pushing a
lawn mower instead of riding around on a garden tractor. And
what about that daily walks to school? Now, our kids complain
when the school bus happens to be a few minutes late getting to
the bus stop! While we're on the subject of our kids we need to
understand the problems we're seeing will be multiplied by their
generation. Video games, the Internet, High Definition TV, the
list of sedentary activities go on and on. Even kids that are
involved in sports today do so only on an organized basis. They
don't play baseball or basketball or hockey from morning until
dark like we did. If we're having an obesity problem over 60%
where will they be in thirty years?
Along with the convenience of our affluent lifestyle and
reduction in energy expenditure, have come changes in our diet.
We are now consuming more highly processed and nutrient
deficient foods than ever before. Never before has a generation
of Americans been so fat, and never before has a generation
consumed so many processed foods. "Low fat" products apparently
aren't the answer either.
Here are a few examples of what we were eating in the 1970's
compared to our diet today (information is taken from a recent
U.S. Department of Agriculture survey):
- We are currently eating more grain products, but almost all of
them are refined grains (white bread, etc.).
has jumped 45 percent since the 1970s, from 138 pounds of grains
per person per year to 200 pounds! Only 2 percent of the wheat
flour is consumed as whole wheat. Most if not all of the
nutrition is lost in milling.
- Our consumption of fruits and vegetables has increased, but
only because the U.S.D.A. includes French fries and potato chips
as a vegetable. Potato products account for almost a third of
our "produce" choices.
- We're drinking less milk, but we've more than doubled our
cheese intake. Cheese now outranks meat as the number one source
of saturated fat in our diets.
- We've cut back on red meat, but have more than made up for the
loss by increasing our intake of chicken (battered and fried),
so that overall, we're eating 13 pounds more meat today than we
did back in the 1970s.
- We're drinking three times more carbonated soft drinks than
milk, compared to the 1970's, when milk consumption was twice
that of soda pop. Studies have shown that we are also
dehydrated. One in ten drinks the required 64 ounces of water a
day, when only a 2% drop can contribute to reduced brain
- We use 25 percent less butter, but pour twice as much
vegetable oil on our food and salads, so our total added fat
intake has increased 32 percent.
- Sugar consumption has been another cause of our expanding
waistlines. Sugar intake is simply off the charts. According to
the U.S. Department of Agriculture, people are consuming roughly
twice the amount of sugar they need each day, about 20 teaspoons
on a 2000 calorie/day diet. The added sugar is found mostly in
junk foods, such as pop, cake, and cookies.
- In 1978, the government found that sugars constituted only 11
percent of the average person's calories. Now, this number has
ballooned to 16 percent for the average American adult and as
much as 20 percent for American teenagers.
The days of the wholesome family dinners so near and dear to our
hearts, where we all sat around the kitchen table to discuss
events of the day, are now a part of our sentimental past. They
have been replaced by our cravings for take-out and fast-food.
We have gradually come to accept that it's "OK" to sacrifice
healthy foods for the sake of convenience and that larger
serving portions mean better value.
And, since I have been throwing-out statistics, here's one more:
Americans are consuming about 300 more calories each day than we
did twenty years ago. We should actually be eating less because
of our decreased activity level, but instead are doing the
Decide TODAY that healthy eating and exercise habits will become
a permanent part of your life!
Begin to explore your values and thoughts and other areas of
your life where change may be required, and then take action.
Begin slowly, but deliberately to make improvements in the areas
you identify. And remember, it has taken a very long time to
develop your habits, and it will take some time to undo
them...so be patient!
Americans must realize and accept there is not a magic pill to
fix everything. We spend 35 billion a year on diet products,
have light beer. Low fat foods and obesity is increasing. It's
time for a wakeup call if not for our sakes, for that of our
Real nutrition, fitness and weight loss information for real
people. Learn how our everyday living environment impacts our
health and wellness. Learn what to do about it. YOU can learn to
live better and younger with the proper information.
About the author:
Martin Harshberger is a sucessful business consultant, and
fitness advocate. He has done extensive research and testing of
nutrition, diet and exercise programs. His interest was
initiated by a personal health issue, and he was sucessful in
losing over 50 pounds, lowering his stress and blood pressure,
as well as increasing muscle mass all at age 57. This was after
he failed at the so called expert programs.