How its Done

So far, I have said a lot about the danger that obesity poses on both the individual and society. I have explained how one can distinguish between a healthy weight and an un-healthy weight. I then invited people to contribute to the fight against obesity. Now I would like to offer some specific ways to fight the battle. In an article posted in the USA Today back in June of this year, journalist, Nanci Hellmich, propses Four Steps to Fighting Obesity. In this article, Hellmich cites the 2010 Dietary Guidlines released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as the 2008 Physcial Activity Guildlines for Americans. Hellmich summarizes these two documents into four major steps to prevent and treat obesity. Here they are:

Reduce excess weight and obesity by cutting calorie intake and increasing physical activity.

Shift to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Increase the intake of seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, and eat only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry and eggs.

Significantly reduce intake of foods containing added sugars and solid fats, which contribute about 35% of the calories in the American diet. Cut sodium intake gradually to 1,500 milligrams a day and lower intake of refined grains, especially those with added sugar, solid fat and sodium.

Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Those recommend that adults get at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, such as brisk walking, or 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity, such as jogging or swimming laps, or a combination of the two types. Children and teens should do an hour or more of moderate-intensity to vigorous physical activity each day.

By reading through these four steps, one can see how the key to fighting obesity comes down to two major commitments: eating healthy and exercising regularly. Luckily, the same way to prevent obesity is the way treat obesity. Certainly, one should be in contact with his/her primary physician with regard to making such lifestyle changes. Because everyone’s situation is different, everyone’s reaction to certain diets and activites will likewise be different. The one thing for certain is that by eating healthy and exercising regularly, one can expect improved health.

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It’s Not Easy, But it Can be Done

In my last post, I addressed parents and invited them to set good examples for their children in living healthy lifestyles. I know this is easier said than done. I admit that I am not a parent myself, so I can’t imagine the struggle it may be to instill any type of behavior in a child. Having said that, I’d like to introduce someone who does know what it’s like. This person is the wife of a prominant figure in the United States. She is also the mother of two young girls. In this clip, this mother tells her story including both the struggles and the successes in providing a healthy lifestyle for her daughters. Now, she is the head of a nation-wide campaign to fight childhood obesity in an effort to prevent the obesity crisis from ever growing. Perhaps you may recognize this woman. Check out this video:

I really do admire the First Lady for her initiative in the Let’s Move  campaign. What is inspiring is how she took an issue that she was facing in her family, noticed it was a fairly common issue among U.S. citizens, and then decided to make a difference by spreading awareness and providing help to all families who struggle with the same issues. I encourage everyone to visit the Let’s Move website and see what is being done about childhood obesity.

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Yes You Can!

In my last post, I posed an important question about obesity- “Can we put a stop to it?” Well, my answer for you today is, YES!

If everyone were to do their part in taking care of themselves and their families, little by little, the obesity crisis would solve itself. With obesity effecting children now more than ever, parents are the greatest tool in both treating and preventing obesity. Parents have the responsibility to provide a healthy environment and lifestyle for their families. With healthy principles instilled at a young age, children are more likely to apply such principles throughout the remainder of their lives and then pass on those principles to their children. So, by choosing to stand up to obesity in their own homes now, it is possible for parents to both treat obesity and prevent it in their own lives, in the lives of their children, and in the lives of their posterity for years to come.

This is my invitation to you parents out there. Make a difference in the world by setting a good example for your children. Teach them by example how to live a healthy life. Encourage them to make healthy choices. Little by little, you will help the world fight this battle against obesity. Remember, there is no limit to the influence that one good example can have on the world.

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More Than You Think

As stated in my last post, obesity is the number two killer of Americans. Knowing this, it probably doesn’t surprise you to see this graph and know that 1 in 2 Americans is overweight and 1 in 6 Americans is obese. I thought this graph was a good visual because it shows what the United States population looks like (more or less). If the United States consisted of only 100 people, it would look like this. It is sobering to realize that the number of overweight and obese Americans increases each year. Should we put a stop to this? Can we put a stop to this?

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It’s a Killer

Obesity is dangerous! I don’t know if I can stress that fact enough. Earlier, I was looking at Stanford University\’s Hospital and Clinics website and read up on the various adverse effects that obesity has on an individual’s health. Some of these effects include:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Osteoarthritis/Joint Problems
  • Sleep Apnea and Respiratory Problems
  • Cancer
  • Metabolic Syndrome (which leads to Cardiovascular disease)
  • Psychological Effects

Most of these illnesses I already knew to be effects of obesity. However, there was one other effect recorded on this web page that I had never heard of. It was the fact that obesity has been linked to pre-mature deaths! I was shocked to read that studies have shown that obesity has been known to cause an estimated 300,000 pre-mature deaths in the United States! How sad.

For some reason, we Americans don’t think obesity is a problem. We recognize tobacco as a problem because it is the number one killer of Americans. But what about the number two killer of Americans? Yes, I’m talking about obesity! Obesity is a threat to our society. It is a killer. But most important of all, it is both treatable and preventable (just like tobacco). Let’s do all we can to make sure that obesity doesn’t take any more lives.

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What is “Obese?”

Having already mentioned a lot about obesity and the threat it is to our society, I’ve found it important to make sure we are all on the same page when it comes to identifying obesity. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a wonderful description of obesity on their website: defining.html.

Obesity is a condition involving excessive accumulation of body fat. Therefore, a person who is obese is one who has an excess amount of body fat to the point that it is detrimental to his/her health. Since every human body contains fat, how can we know if the amount of fat our body contains is unhealthy or not? That’s where the BMI comes in. The BMI, or “body mass index,” is a measurement used to calculate a person’s weight to height ratio. A person with a BMI between 18 and 24 is known to have a healthy weight. Someone with a BMI of 30 or above is known to be obese. Check out this chart taken from the National Institute of Health used to identify individual BMI:

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“The Terror from Within”

This past week, I spent a considerable amount of time searching obesity on the internet. I was impressed with the information I found. There are many govermental and non-governmental organizations that have much to say regarding obesity. (Perhaps this is because obesity is one of the most pressing issues in our country!) In the middle of my search, I stumbled upon a series of videos featuring former U.S. Surgeon General, Richard Carmona speaking out about obesity. I was inspired by his words. In essence, Dr. Carmona described obesity as the “Terror from Within” for the United States. I thought this was profound. Because of the troubling times that we as a nation find ourselves in with the war in Iraq and the unstable economy, we are caught off gaurd by this “Terror from Within” or, this national threat within our very borders; within our very homes.

I challenge you all to do some research for yourself and see what is being done in this war against obesity. See what the U.S. Surgeon Generals of past and present have said about obesity. Check out the websites for health organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and see what has already been said about this epidemic. (And a word of caution: be careful of where you get your information- try to stick to credible sites (government sponsered sites are probably most credible).

Here’s the video clip of former U.S. Surgeon General, Richard Carmona as shown in the trailer to the documentary, Killer at Large, taken from the Oprah Show.

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