What is driving America’s chronic weight problem? There are no definite answers. Scientific studies often reach conflicting conclusions, but the preponderance of evidence points to the two causes most people already suspect: too much food and too little exercise.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American ate almost 20% more calories in the year 2000 than they did in 1983, thanks, in part, to a boom in meat consumption. Today, each American puts away an average of 195 lbs of meat every year, compared to just 138 lbs in the 1950’s. Consumption of added fats also shot up by around two thirds over the same period, and grain consumption rose 45% since 1970.
Confusing “Diet” for “Nutrition”
The role of diet in the U.S. obesity epidemic is obviously major, but it’s also complex. Consumers are sent wildly mixed messages when it comes to what to eat and how much. On one hand, larger portions, processed packaged food, and drive-thru meals are branded as almost classically American — fast, cheap, filling and delicious. On the other hand, we spend over $20 billion annually on weight loss schemes, from diet books and pills all the way up to last-resort surgeries like lap-bands and liposuction. It’s no wonder we’re looking for fast food and fast weight loss options, we spend more time at work and less time in our homes and kitchens than our parents did.
Inactivity is the New Normal
Lack of exercise is also a major culprit in the obesity epidemic. It’s been decades since most Americans worked in fields and on factory floors, a far greater majority of us are sitting throughout our workday. This means less exercise each day. Americans burn 120 to 140 fewer calories a day than they did 50 years ago. Add this to the higher amount of calories we are consuming, and we get a perfect recipe for weight gain.
But lethargy goes well beyond the workplace. It is also how we get to work and what we do after. Americans walk less than people in any other industrialized country, preferring to sit in cars to get around. And at the end of the day, 80% of Americans don’t get enough exercise.
Some individuals have never known what it is like to be within normal guidelines for weight. Some of their obesity issues began at a young age. They suffer with low self-esteem, depression and challenging social interaction. Some have been bullied because of their weight and have turned to emotional eating to soothe themselves. Emotional eating/binging disorder contributes to their desire to get a quick fix with weight loss surgeries. Often those that undergo the surgery find themselves back to where they started. Possible because they have never focused on behavior changes which must happen to ensure long term success. If you are contemplating weight loss surgery or just need someone to explore what options you have for weight loss please reach out. If you are struggling with Obesity there is help. If you want to explore how to focus on the issue and look for solutions to the problem fill out the contact page and set up your appointment today.