• Where Do We Stand With Obesity?

    Wondering where do we stand with obesity? Following is a brief history of the obesity epidemic, as well as insights into where we are headed with this issue.

    In 1990, 15% of the adult population in America was considered obese.[1] By 2000, the number of adults with excess weight surpassed the number of underweight adults worldwide for the first time in history.[2] By 2010, “36 states had obesity rates of 25 percent or higher, and 12 of those had obesity rates of 30 percent or higher.[3]

    Where Do We Stand With Obesity-Freedigitalphotos.net-Stuart MilesToday, U.S. obesity rates vary from 20% to 36% depending on the state. Not surprisingly, physical inactivity rates are similar.[4] And the problem is no longer confined to adults, but is now also associated with children, with one out of six children/adolescents aged 2-19 being obese and one out of three being overweight or obese.[5]

    Finances do play a role in obesity rates. Over 33% of adult Americans who earn less than $15,000 per year are obese, whereas just under 25% of those who earn $50,000 per year are obese.[6] With obesity driving most of the chronic diseases and healthcare costs in America, estimated costs range from $147 billion to almost $210 billion per year, and obese people spend 43% more on direct healthcare costs than people who maintain a healthy weight.[7]

    Obesity is a Holistic Problem

    Unfortunately, the obesity issue cannot be solved with one or two changes because there are so many factors that contribute to the problem. Following is a list of the many causes of obesity, which was derived from Shape Up America.

    • Using food to cope with stress and depression
    • Overeating as a result of eating too fast and therefore not realizing when they are full
    • Eating foods that trigger an addictive response
    • Hormonal imbalances that lead to overeating
    • Increased availability of junk food
    • Lack of nutritional education/knowledge
    • Eating habits that include many junk foods, processed foods and sugary drinks and minimal amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole foods.
    • Skipping meals followed by overeating
    • Unhealthy fad diets
    • Eating a lot of meals at restaurants or take out
    • Large portion sizes
    • Lack of family meals, which leads to childhood obesity
    • Food insecurity (uncertainty about where the next meal will come from)
    • Large amounts of sedentary time at work, at leisure and through distance-learning
    • Commuting to work and places via car, bus and train instead of walking or biking
    • Technology that eliminates physical exertion
    • Physical disabilities that limit physical activity
    • Self-consciousness and other psychological factors that interfere with their willingness to exercise
    • Medications that cause weight gain due to metabolism and hormone alterations
    • Air pollution and toxins in the environment that alter metabolism and hormone function
    • Poor quality sleep
    • Work stress and family conflicts
    • Lack of healthcare providers in rural areas
    • Lack of employer awareness about obesity and the willingness to make workplace changes to help reduce obesity
    • Lifestyle changes such as entering college or starting a new job or marriage

    Obesity & Prevention

    Obesity has now been declared a national health emergency because of its impact on chronic disease, lower quality of life and shorter life spans. Obesity can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, liver failure and more, not to mention the low self-esteem, psychological stress and depression that comes along with it. The good news, however, is that obesity and the health conditions it causes is highly preventable.

    Several new healthcare trends are helping bring awareness to the dangers of obesity and the fact that lifestyle changes can prevent it. Over time, these trends should help reduce the problem:

    Fitness Trackers – Wearable fitness tracking devices like the Fitbit and the Apple watch are the in-thing right now and that trend is still on the rise, with it expected to be a dominant trend of 2016.

    More Nutritious Foods & Habits – Many Americans are beginning to adopt healthy nutritional habits instead of yo-yo diets. Several food manufacturers and restaurants are stepping in and reducing unhealthy aspects of their products. Fast fresh foods, for example, are becoming more popular, with the rise of chains like Panera Bread and SweetGreens, and many convenience stores like Wawa now carry an array of fresh, nutritious foods.

    Some Junk Food Companies Are Hurting – “Junk food” manufacturers are becoming concerned as more and more Americans reduce their intake of those foods. For example, soda companies are worried because the obesity epidemic is moving people away from consuming so much soda. Even so, there are so many people who still don’t realize how much sugar is in soda (one can of soda contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar, which provides almost all of the recommended amount for an entire day. The new US dietary guidelines for sugar suggest that only 10% of a person’s daily calories should be from sugary drinks).

    Obesity Medicine Physicians – A new category of physicians has opened up (Obesity Medicine Physicians), and more physicians are now seeking board certification in obesity medicine. This will bring more awareness to the problem, help people prevent the problem from occurring, and help people change their lifestyle habits so that they can reduce their weight as needed.

    The obesity epidemic has been a problem for a number of years now and it will only continue to get worse if we do nothing about it. Thankfully, public officials, communities and individuals around the world are recognizing the extent of this issue and are taking steps to solve the problem. What are you doing to help resolve the obesity issue?










    [1] http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

    [2] http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=XF2015028707

    [3] http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

    [4] http://stateofobesity.org/physical-inactivity/

    [5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22253364

    [6] http://stateofobesity.org/socioeconomics-obesity/

    [7] http://stateofobesity.org/healthcare-costs-obesity/


    Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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