Overfatness and obesity are on the rise among U.S. citizens. According to the American Obesity Association, severe obesity is now at 4.7%. That’s up from the 2.9% reported in the 1988-1994 National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among adults who are 20 years old and older, 64.5% are overweight, and 30.5% are considered obese.
Women lead in the number of those who are considered either obese (34%) or severely obese (6.3%). Men lead in the number of those who are considered merely overweight (67%). And, the number of children in the U.S. who are either overweight or obese is also on the increase! In fact, at least twice as many American children are now overweight than in the 1960’s!
Overfatness and obesity can be attributed to several factors. Although genetics, glandular disorders, and/or a slow metabolism may play a role in being overweight or obese, excess food consumption and lack of physical activity remain the primary causes for being overweight or obese.
Americans have become a sedentary society, which thrives on high-calorie, high-fat, low-nutrition fast food. If one combines an inactive lifestyle with a high-calorie, high-fat diet, one’s chances of becoming overweight increases greatly! This appears to be what’s happening in our country! And, according to the American Obesity Association, studies have shown that obesity has increased among people of all education levels (with the highest increase among those with less education) and in all geographic regions of the U.S.
Obesity increases one’s risk of illness and serious diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. It also increases one’s risk of early death, as a result of such diseases. In addition, obesity puts an individual at higher risk for impaired mobility. And, those who are overweight or obese tend to be discriminated against in school or the workplace and are often socially shunned. They often lack self-confidence, too, as a result of the appearance of their bodies.
It’s never too late, however, to make lifestyle changes to combat weight problems! If most cases of obesity arise from too little exercise and too much caloric consumption, then, two ways to change one’s lifestyle would be to consume fewer calories and to get more exercise!
Although dieting, alone, can lead to weight loss, it usually causes the weight to be lost in lean tissue, instead of in fat tissue. (And, skipping meals is definitely NOT a recommended method of losing weight!) Studies have shown, however, that combining balanced, nutritious, moderate-calorie meals with regular exercise can lead to loss of body fat. (Loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week seems to be ideal.)
The best way to maintain control of body fat is to set realistic goals, which incorporate aerobic activity, such as walking, jogging, swimming, and any other activity that can be sustained for at least 30-60 minutes. These activities work best when engaged in 5-6 days per week, according to Charles B. Corbin and Ruth Lindsey, in Concepts of Fitness and Wellness, Vol. II. More vigorous exercise can be beneficial, as well. But, many people cannot keep up with vigorous exercise for extended periods of time. Therefore, less vigorous activities, which can be maintained for longer periods, are better for fat control.
Implementing strength training into one’s exercise routine can be effective, too, in maintaining one’s desired body composition. Through strength training, muscle mass is increased. An increase in muscle mass or lean body mass allows more calories to be burned when the body is at rest. In turn, the body develops a higher metabolic rate, which promotes the burning of more fat. Also, for those who have more muscle mass, more calories are burned when engaged in physical activity.
By setting goals that are within reach, by exercising regularly, and by eating healthy, balanced meals, the Battle of the Bulge CAN be won! It won’t happen overnight! However, changing one’s lifestyle for a lifetime can produce lasting results!
Have a healthy and prosperous life!