As we all know, exercise is important. Eating a balanced diet and avoiding high-fat foods is also very important in maintaining good health. If we all know this, why do we not do it? “Couch potato syndrome” is very widespread in America. We’ve all heard that the United States is the fattest country in the world. But how serious is this epidemic?
60 million Americans, 20 years of age or older are overweight; 3 million of those being morbidly obese. Obesity is the number two cause of preventable death in the US. A whopping 78% of Americans do not reach basic activity level recommendations. And 25% of Americans are classified as completely sedentary. Diabetes is also a huge problem in the US. 80% of type II diabetes cases in America are related to obesity. The obesity rate in America has jumped from 13% in 1962 to 31% in 2000. And that is just the tip of the needle.
Childhood obesity is increasing in numbers in the country. The most recent statistics reveal that 60% of the children in America are overweight. Of course, the children usually can not be to blame for this. Parents make most of the decision as to what their children will eat. Many children who are overweight have overweight parents. Studies show that physical activity and eating habits are developed mostly in childhood. This increases their chances of being overweight for their entire lifetime. Obese children have a 70% chance of becoming an obese adult.
How does the US compare in obesity rates to the rest of the world? America takes the lead with 30.5% of its citizens being overweight. Mexico comes in second with 24.2%. Most European countries fall between 18% and 7%, while Japan and South Korea have obesity rates at 3.2%. As you can see, we have a serious issue.
What is the cause of the alarming obesity rates in the US? It’s no mystery. We Americans normally eat nothing but fast food and junk and we have a reputation for being very inactive. Many obese Americans try to blame fast food corporations or soda for their problem, but in all reality they are the ones who chose to consume these products in the first place. Americans are also to blame for their physical inactivity. In many countries people choose to walk or ride their bike to destinations, while most Americans ride in a car or take the bus. We also choose to spend hours in front of the television and on the computer. I must not forget to mention that some people can not be to blame for being overweight, due to having serious health conditions.
What can we do about this epidemic? The answer is obvious. We need to stop eating junk food compulsively and encourage others to do so as well. I know many of us will have a hard time putting down the doughnuts and cheeseburgers. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a treat every once in a while, but you should limit it to once a week or less. Candy, deserts, sodas, red meat, and fried foods should NOT be part of our everyday diets. Getting off of our butts once a while and going to the gym or going for a walk can improve your health and reduce your weight. It is recommended that you work out or do something physical activity for 30 minutes to an hour every day, but you may not always have the time to do this every day. Just try to get some physical activity every day. It will take a while, but if we work together, we can bring the US down from #1 fattest country.
Lauren Voyles, Staff Writer