Friday, April 20, 2007

Fat Nation

Obesity is yet another disease rapidly on the rise here in the U.S., as well as many other developed nations. Other than the fact that the industrialized nations do not suffer from starvation, I think it can safely be said that the more industrialized the country, more of its citizens are overweight. The U.S. is one of the world’s leaders of obesity.

58 million Americans are overweight
40 million Americans are obese
3 million are “morbidly obese” (meaning their ability to walk and breathe are impaired)
8 our of 10 Americans over the age of 25 are overweight
78% of Americans don’t meet the basic level of activity suggested
25% are completely sedentary
Adult Type II diabetes in people between ages 30-40 has increased by 76% (this diabetes is associated with obesity)

I could go on and on. Don’t forget that diabetes and obesity in children is rapidly tripling and even quadrupling by the decade! 85% of children with Type II diabetes are obese!

What is going on?! Well, our industrialized, wealthy nation has spawned a society that lives in a relative sort of luxury. By “luxury” I mean having plenty of food at hand and not having to do any sort of physical activity to get through a day.

How many fast-food, convenience, and donut shops do you pass on your daily commute? How many of us are too on-the-run to eat breakfast, the most important meal for boosting our metabolism? How many children eat pop tarts and other sugar – laden, processed food for breakfast (if they even eat breakfast)? Who needs to walk anywhere besides around the office? What stairs – why not use the elevator to go up a floor? Why walk down the street when you can drive there in a minute? Don’t forget that high stress causes us to develop unhealthy eating habits and our bodies to retain fat.

Let’s face it – this nation is in a health crisis! With all the medical knowledge we have we are still fatter and sicker than ever. Could it be the high fructose corn syrup (very, very bad!) added to our foods and drinks? Some researchers theorize that the body metabolizes corn sugars differently from beet and cane sugars, altering the body’s metabolism hormones and causing the liver to release more fat into the bloodstream. Maybe it’s the fact that portions these days are literally out of control. The average portion at a restaurant is between 3 and 4 times what a true portion is! Maybe it’s both.

Regardless of which theory you believe, no one can deny the fact that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is such a concentrated sugar that it can only hurt the body. Don’t be fooled by fat-free yogurts and other “healthy” foods either. A cup of fat-free yogurt can have 10 teaspoons of high fructose corn syrup in it – meaning you are probably better off eating the yogurt that is not fat free. After all, the body metabolizes fat a lot better than sugar, especially if that sugar is in the form of HFCS. Even bread, English muffins, and hotdog buns contain HFCS because it prevents freezer burn and extends shelf life of food. Who knew?

If we REALLY want to stop the obesity/diabetes epidemic sweeping this country, we as individuals must choose to not live that way. This is something that no amount of technology or medicine can help – it can only be prevented the good old-fashioned way: by eating diets rich in whole grains and produce, low in saturated fats and sugar, and by exercising on a regular basis. Make a conscious choice to NOT become one of the many in this country affected by obesity and all its related diseases!


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