Almost Everyone is Overweight or ObesePeople are getting fatter and more depressed with more anxiety. It's not just conjecture. It's sad and true. That is why many health organizations have called for unity over the important topic of obesity. Obesity is effecting just about everyone.
Do you realize how many people are overweight or obese? It's just about everyone in the US. About one third of the population is in a healthy weight range. Currently, the statistics show that around 33% of the US population is obese and 67% of the US population is overweight. It is estimated that at current trend levels, by 2030, 86.3% adults will be overweight or obese and 51.1% will be obese. If that's not bad enough, by 2048, all American adults will become overweight or obese (source: Obesity Research Journal). Obviously trending can level off and hopefully we will not reach these numbers. Here, at obesityepidemic.org, we are trying to fight this obesity trend and reverse it backward. We are calling for unity in action across all health organizations, manufacturers, and government oversight.
Why the Obesity Trend
There are a lot of studies on this. Obesity is always blamed on two things associated with lifestyle: diet and exercise. Diet and exercise may be the two important things, but there is much to be explored about the toxic environment we live in.
There are normative questions that need legislative answers. Should we allow corporations to market obesity related products to us? Should we develop healthy infrastructures that allow for exercise? Should we tell restaurants that we want to easily be able to see the caloric and nutritional aspects of our foods? Should we allow commercialization of food products when the nutrient density is very low, glycemic indexes are high, and calories are consumed in a “bubble of sugar air”.
Here is a video based on CDC data of obesity trends.
There is a lot to cover. That is why we will prioritize the main obesity drivers in descending order of importance.
Obesity is strongly linked to sugar intake. Sugar tastes great. The body sends signals to the brain to make you feel good from eating the sugar. Food manufacturers learned, many years ago, that food tastes better and sells better if you put some sugar into it. That is why there is sugar in about everything you can buy. Ok, so why is the sugar so evil?
Sugar adds calories to everything you eat. That means you will need to either eat a lot less or exercise more to account for the added sugar calories. That doesn't sound good, but sugar has a much more nefarious effect.
Sugary Foods Increase AppetiteSugar has the effect of increasing your appetite. Try and eat something with out any sugar and something with added sugar. People will eat more of a sugary meal and after the sugary meal, they will feel hungrier. The increased appetite effect will last for several hours after a meal. There is a theory behind your increased appetite.
In a sugary meal, the body reacts by adding insulin to the blood. Insulin has the job to take the excess sugar and store it in fat cells. Sugars are easily turned into fat. Then, a few hours later most people will feel a bit sluggish from low blood sugar. This is caused by not having not eaten something of real substance and the sugar high (what goes up must come down). How does the body react? The body induces hunger to get the blood sugar back up. If you eat some more sugary foods, you are basically continuing down a path of sugar highs, sugar lows, and most certainly obesity. You will certainly consume more calories this way than eating something of low sugar content from the beginning.
What do you think about foods genetically engineering to increase sugar content? Do you think it will have an effect?
Fast Food and RestaurantsDo you think fast food restaurants are concerned about your health or their wallet? Do restaurants sell more food that tastes good or food that is healthy?
Like cigarette companies, restaurants claim that they are only giving people what they want. Restaurants think that consumer demand is for the inferior sugar and fat laden products. And, they argue, they have to make some money.
Obesity Trend in Line with Fast Food Growth
There weren't a lot of obese people in the 1940s. Fast food was really just starting out at that time. It took fast food about twenty years to really gain some traction. Now, it's everywhere. Mcdonalds has a goal of being less than four minutes from any persons home. The signs are everywhere, the ads are on television, and maybe your child is begging for a happy meal.
From about the 1960s on, there has been this huge growth in fast food, restaurants, eating out, and obesity. The trends coincide with one another. Sure it doesn't prove causality, but studies have been done. A study published in the Lancet medical journal, by author Doctor David Ludwig, found that people who frequently ate fast food gained 10 pounds more than those who did so less often. In addition, they would have double the chance to develop insulin disorders. In another study, Pediatric Magazine, January issue showed that children would gain six pounds per year and around 200 extra calories per day from fast food consumption.
How often should I eat out? Dietitians and nutritionists say to never eat fast food and to eat at healthy restaurants occasionally. I know what you are thinking. Once or twice a week is not occasionally. That is often. In this case, occasionally means once or twice per month. If you can handle it, don't eat out at all.
If you have any doubts about the effects of fast food, go and watch the movie Supersize Me.
Your body craves nutrients. It is what keeps you alive. What happens if you don't get proper nutrition? Your body will crave food. It is amazing, but scientists are finding that even though we are an obese society, we are also nutrient deficient. How does it happen?
Food is processed. The goal of any food manufacturer is to be produce quickly and get people to buy it. The product must also be safe. Let's examine a product to see the results.
Many people think fruit juice is good for them. They buy their children apple juice, orange juice, grape juice, and more. If you read the labels, you will find that many of the juices have absolutely no nutritional value. To cut cost, many of the juices are made with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, and water. What some manufacturers do is that they add some vitamins back in to give the juice some nutritional value. In essence, you are buying a sugary vitamin drink packed full of calories. If it has high fructose corn syrup you are getting extra sugar and maybe some future liver problems. The problem is that for the drinks to be safe and manufactured on large scales, they must be heated up and pasteurized. The process takes out the nutritional qualities of the drinks. There is only one big problem here. Do you see the juice companies advertising that the product contains no nutrition and has high calories. In fact, they are marketed as nutritious, wholesome, and full of vitamins. Many doctors and nutritionists simply tell people to avoid all sugary drinks and that includes juices. If you want some real juice, make it at home.
You might think we are picking on one industry, but the problem similarly pervades the entire food supply. 99% of households buy bread and bread has the same problem. Meat has the same problem. Diary has the same problem. What doesn't? That is the real problem. The food environment is toxic.
There are two wonderful inventions that make life sedentary. They are the television and the computer. It is proven that people that sit in front of either, too long, will become overweight or obese.
In a Stanford University study, weight gain was connected with television viewing. The average person watches around four hours per day. The studies show that watching around four hours or more per day is strongly connected with obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children watch less than two hours of television per day. Increasing television to 3-4 hours per day increases obesity chances by three to four times.
Computer and gaming are also contributors, but the effects are less pronounced. People just don't spend near as much time on computers and gaming systems as they do watching television. In any case, the time should be limited. It is a good idea to limit total computer, gaming, and television time to less than two hours.
In addition, the US Surgeon General recommends that you don't eat in front of the television. People are more likely to eat more calories while watching. Instead, eat as a family around the table. It has many benefits beyond obesity prevention. For example, children will excel in school and not use drugs.
Health EffectsObesity is linked with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, gallbladder disease, and a lot of other diseases. It is so bad, that some health organizations have turned a bulk of their research away from infectious diseases and more towards chronic disease. Studying chronic disease, seriously, is a big change.
Obesity is also linked with anxiety and depression. Researchers think that obese individuals become depressed from discrimination and then social isolation. People really do treat the overweight and obese badly. Many overweight and obese individuals do not have any real friends. Research has shown that quality of life for the obese is on par with that of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Thats pretty bad.
Historically Our Bodies Can't Handle Modern Diets
The body works best when blood sugars are at an equilibrium level. As humans, we have existed for thousands of years. Historically, we lived a great amount of time as hunter gatherers and ate a lot of meat; fruits and vegetables were eaten occasionally. In due course, farming practices and inventions made food more abundant and the diet changed to have more grains and fruits and vegetables.
How to Lose Weight
Nutritionists and dietitians agree that losing one to two pounds per week is best. Rapid weight loss can lead to gallstones, hernia, and other medical problems. To achieve weight loss of one to two pounds per week, cut your calories by 500 per day and exercise for 30-60 minutes per day. Keep track of what you eat and how you exercise; especially at the beginning. For most people, they will be able to reach their goal in 3-6 months. If you happen to be morbidly obese, stick with it. It will take a little longer. Make up a plan on how to lose the weight with a goal and time frame in mind. If you know how long it will take, it increases the motivation to stick with it. It is not motivating to think the diet will last forever. Finally, look for changes that can be permanent. Get rid of soda forever and find a way to be active that is fun and rewarding for you. In due time, you will find that you crave exercise and poor quality food won't be as appealing. Some people actually get addicted to exercise and feel depressed if they can't do something active. When you reach the point that you look forward to some of these good things, you will know that you are about there.
Obesity legislation is a new kind of law. It is similar to tobacco law. The idea is that you shouldn't limit free speech. On the other hand, in the year 2000 obesity was killing about 300,000 people per year and costing around 117 billion dollars per year. It is serious. The free market doesn't seem to be solving the problem. It is systemic and needs unity across government, industry, and health professionals. Legislation needs get to make incentives for companies that produce quality food, and people need to be educated about the issue. In schools, the real effects of fast food, soda, and sedentary life are not dealt with effectively. Health education needs a real boost.
We hope this site will be a place where people can exchange ideas about how to overcome the giant obesity problem in America.