Americans are getting bigger. The weight of an average American woman these days is 166.2 pounds, almost exactly what the average American man weighed in the 1960s. Men are growing too at just about the same pace, with the average American man weighing 195.5 pounds. The average American is 33 pounds heavier than the average Frenchman, 40 pounds heavier than the Japanese citizen, and 70 pounds heavier than the average citizen of Bangladesh.
The obesity epidemic is one of America’s most serious health problems, contributing to more than 30 serious diseases. Obesity rates in adults have doubled since 1980, from 15 to 30 percent, and they have tripled in children. These conditions create a major strain on the health care system with more than one-quarter of health care costs now related to obesity.
Almost half of Americans (45 percent) worry about their weight, with women significantly more likely than men to say they worry about their weight all of the time. Yet while 45 percent of Americans say they worry about their weight, only 29 percent say they are seriously trying to do something about it. According to a Fortune poll conducted by Survey Monkey, 77 percent of Americans are actively trying to eat healthier, but only 19 percent say they are on a diet.
The idea that our obesity epidemic is caused by sedentary lifestyles has spread widely over the past few decades, but there are questions as to whether physical activity really makes much of a difference in weight loss. A recent editorial in The British Journal of Sports Medicine states that regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and some cancers by at least 30 percent. However, physical activity does not promote weight loss. The article goes on to say that in the past 30 years, as obesity has rocketed, there has been little change in physical activity levels in the Western population, thus placing the blame of our expanding waistlines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed.
Poor diet, according to The Lancet global burden of disease reports, now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined. More importantly, it is the type of calories and where they come from. For example, sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger whereas fat calories induce fullness or satiation.
Sadly, nearly one in three people alive today is overweight or obese, including two out of three adults in the United States, and no country has lowered its obesity rate since 1980. The old adage is true, diets don’t work. Losing weight has to be a permanent lifestyle change.
- In a study of more than 75,000 people with diabetes, those who received group diabetes education, as opposed to individual counseling, were less likely to end up in the hospital or ER for severely low or high blood sugar. webmd.com
- More people in the United States are addicted to nicotine than to any other drug. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. cdc.gov
- In one analysis of data from nearly 30,000 people in 52 countries, those who owned both a car and TV had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack than those who owned neither. health.com
- Each year, smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke causes 443,000 premature deaths and costs the nation $193 billion in health bills and lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says 19.3 percent of U.S. adults smoked last year, down from 42.4 percent in 1965. usatoday.com
- There are nearly 7 million stroke survivors in the U.S. Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S. Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. stroke.org