Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Obesity Trends

"...Eat only what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it." - Proverbs 25:16

In the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. This map shows the obesity rates of the 50 states as of 2006.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 40% of the U.S. population is obese and that number is climbing.

Although there is a wealth of information available on how to overcome obesity, it seems as though very little is actually being done to reverse the current trend. People are still eating too much food or eating the wrong foods. Despite the changes in the fast food industry to eliminate trans fats and offer "healthier" versions of their food, many people still eat too much, buy the "Super Size" meal due to its perceived value or don't know how to make the right choices. And for many people, they are confused by the resources available to them and never actually learn how to eat right and exercise properly.

In addition, our society has grown more acceptable of obesity and is moving toward a "politically correct" way of treating people who are "larger" than others. For example, after visiting Universal Studios - Islands of Adventure this past weekend, I was surprised to see that some of the rides have been changed to accommodate obese individuals. As I stood in line to ride the Incredible Hulk Coaster, I noticed a sign that said, "Rows 3 and 6 have been increased to accommodate certain body dimensions."

It doesn't stop there. I saw numerous adults riding around in those motorized scooters. They were clearly obese, and they were everywhere! It seems like more and more adults are relying on these motorized scooters as a form of locomotion rather than walking. In addition, as I spent nearly 12 hours walking, running, playing and riding the rides, I saw very few fit and healthy people! Most were overweight, obese or "skinny fat."

Not all of the rides have been changed to accommodate obese individuals, but some can hold larger people due to their overall design. As we came to the end of our flume ride on Dudley Do-Rights Rip Saw Falls, we were held up for a while because an obese woman ahead of us was unable to get out of the flume log. She was stuck and needed the assistance of her family to help pull her up and out. And as soon as she was done, she hopped on her motorized scooter and sped off to the next ride.

I don't want to judge anyone, but just thinking about how obesity affects the overall health and happiness of an individual along with how they function in daily life is a concern. It amazes me that many people can let themselves get to that point in their life and how difficult it must be to live like that. Not only that, but obesity is costing our nation millions of dollars in healthcare costs. Obesity affects all of us.

I understand that many obese people have dieted before. Many have tried exercise. Some blame it on genetics. Others are naturally "big boned." Some have hormonal issues or other imbalances in the body. But the bottom line is that with proper nutrition and exercise, no one should be obese.

Will everyone look like the models or bodybuilders we see on TV or in print ads? No, of course not! But can everyone be at a healthy weight, be fit and live a life without all the problems associated with obesity? YES!

Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy? No. Does it require hard work? Yes. Will it take time? Yes. For some it could take years. But wouldn't it be worth the hard work and time in order to be healthy, happy and live life the way God meant for all of us? Most definitely.

I hope to be able to use my passion for health and fitness to help those who are overweight or obese. I want to be able to help people who struggle with their weight to finally get to a point where they are healthy, happy and spiritually fit so they can enjoy their time spent in this world and with those whom they love and love them.

We must do something about the obesity epidemic in this country. It has now become a huge issue for children. It has to change. One step at a time.

Did you know?

• 71% of men are overweight.

• 62% of women are overweight.

• 33% are considered obese.

• 18% of our youth are overweight or obese (up 70% since 1988).

• Obesity and related health problems cost $117 billion each year.

• Poor employee nutrition costs $1,474 per year per employee.

• Excess weight lowers gas mileage. Americans spend more than $2.2 billion in gas because of additional weight.

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