Americans are true heavyweights, and no, that’s not a good thing. Studies suggest somewhere in the neighborhood of 35% of American adults are overweight or obese. Estimates place childhood obesity levels around 15%. Weight-related issues result in health costs of nearly $147 billion per year. And it’s only getting worse.
How did things get this out of hand? Is this the price we pay for living in a land of plenty? Most experts believe that the current obesity epidemic is the result of a simple three-part process:
Americans eat way too much. We eat bigger portions and we eat more times during the day. Some of us are almost constantly eating. We consume food in our cars, at out desks at work, and just about anywhere else we go. Fast food restaurants peddle bigger portions for cheap and we eat them up. Americans love a good deal.
Americans are not only eating more, but most of what we’re eating is terrible for us. We shovel down processed foods that are loaded with fats, carbohydrates, and preservatives. It’s not completely our fault. Fast foods are cheap and available 24 hours a day seven days a week. They’re quick and convenient, and we don’t seem to be able to resist.
Things might not be so out of hand if Americans were active enough to offset their caloric intake. Unfortunately, we’re not. Many of us hunker down in front of computers all day at work, then come home to hunker down in front of our televisions. Chores that used to be a workout, like mowing the lawn can now be accomplished while sitting down. Cars have made it easier to get where we need to go, but they’ve also facilitated laziness by cutting down on how much time we spend walking. It all adds up to bigger waistlines.
In short, Americans eat way too much, too much of what we eat is bad for us, and we aren’t active enough. Not to be a wet blanket, but we need to get this turned around or we’re all going to wind up paying for it, even if it’s just in the form of higher health care costs.