It is no news that the United States has been struggling with the obesity epidemic for the last several decades. Every year more and more weight loss companies come out with the next new “quick fix” or diet, yet the numbers continue to rise. In 2010, a government-run organization which aims to improve the health of Americans set a goal of lowering the rate to 30.5% for adults, 14.5% for youth by the year 2020. Just three years away, and the rates have only continued to increase; more specifically, by 30% and 33%, respectively, in the last 16 years.
This year, 40% of all adults in the US are considered obese (according to BMI), while 19% of our youth follows suit. Even worse? There are no obvious signs of it slowing down.
There are several external contributing factors that are predicted to have led to this continuous epidemic:
- #1 - Lack of nutritional education
- Increased availability of energy-dense, nutrient-lacking foods
- Larger portion sizing
- Eating for any occasion: to celebrate, to cope, out of boredom, etc.
- Eating out (fast food, restaurants) rather than cooking at home
- Aggressive food advertising
- A rise in technology/social networking
- Low socioeconomic status
- Decreased activity
- Consistent temperature
What are some steps we can take to actively defeat this?:
- Approach the issue as a family or group (especially with the vulnerable youth) by eating more healthy meals together and avoiding isolating the child
- Practice mindfulness when eating
- Decrease portion sizes
- Expose yourself to proper nutritional education
- Cook more at home
- Increase activity/exercise
From a government standpoint, they have considered taking action by increasing taxes on soda/other unhealthy products and improving Supplemental Assistance Programs. Until then, however, it is up to us to approach this issue head on and make a change.
For more information, check out this article:
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS