Attention America: Stop! Put down that Twinkie and back away from the doughnut counter. Drop the bacon double-cheeseburger and put your hands above your head. Now, see if you can bend over and touch your toes. Can you even see your toes? You’d be surprised by the number of folks who can’t. Statistics currently show that about two-thirds of Americans are overweight, half of whom are obese.
It is estimated that by the year 2020 more than 75% of Americans will be obese; not just overweight by 5-15 pounds, but dangerously obese to the extent of causing major health problems. The yearly costs of obesity, as it relates to productivity loss are pegged at $73 billion dollars among those employed fulltime in the U.S. This is equal to the total annual cost for medical expenditures relating to this condition.
Diabetes is one of the most common consequences of obesity. I have witnessed firsthand the difference that diet and exercise can have on diabetics who have become insulin dependent. After reducing her weight by 25%, my mother no longer needed to have daily insulin injections. This followed more than a decade of insulin dependence.
When I look around the American landscape today I can observe many changes in our culture. We have become a society that likes to over indulge in more ways than just eating. I am reminded of the motto expressed by the Soviets back in the 60s. We will bury you was splashed across the newspapers that I delivered in the early 60s. I thought at the time that it was their pledge to use aggression and military might to defeat our democratic republic. I eventually came to understand that it means they had recognized that our own weakness of mind and spirit has accounted for our propensity to over indulge.
We have become childlike in more ways than just our propensity to super-size everything we put into mouths, but that is a subject for further scrutiny at another time. What is the answer to this epicurean epidemic? You’ll have to ask Hugh, he’s the one who has demonstrated to me that a change of attitude and mental discipline can have a profound impact on physical wellbeing.
He has made the effort to redefine his lifestyle and commit to the changes in nutrition and physical activity that has reset his metabolism and restored the natural order of the body’s metabolism. It isn’t about just “eating less and exercising more,” it is about eating more of what the body needs and less of what it doesn’t. It means sitting down to eat and properly digest the food we consume to fuel the body in maintaining the correct balance of vital nutrients that are necessary to good health. Instead, too many tend slide through a drive-through and eat on the run. Is it any wonder that antacid sales top $10 billion annually?
We should first educate ourselves on the basics of our dietary needs. A lack of health and nutritional instruction in schools should be addressed immediately. It seems that we have gotten away from this dietary training that began at an early age just 50 or more years ago. The Food Pyramid, consisting of the four basic food groups, seems to have been rendered down to meat and cheese. I suppose that fries do constitute a vegetable component; however they also add fat and sodium.
The intake of dietary salt in the average American is also far in excess of the recommended daily allowance. The habitual use of excess salt leads in the diet leads to hypertension and cardiovascular disease. This adds a double whammy to the existing problem of obesity in most people. Since 1994 the evidence has shown conclusively that salt intake and increase blood pressure are related. Salt is essential, but only in moderation.
There are a relative handful of minerals and compounds that make up the human body and the list of those needed to maintain the body amount to no more than about 50. This list includes the Fatty(2) and Amino Acids8), Vitamins (15), and dietary Minerals (19) to sustain the functions of cell growth and replacement.. When they are lacking, the body is unsuccessful in fulfilling the requirements necessary to meet that goal. That leads to malnutrition and that equals poor health.
Diseases such as scurvy and rickets, which result from the deficiency of Vitamins C & D, respectively, are not commonly seen in this country as they were in past centuries. This is due, in part, to a better understanding of these ailments and their relation to a deficiency of these compounds.
As the many cultures of our immigrant ancestors blended during the 20th century, it became common for mothers to exhort their families to “eat.” And eat we did, but as our society evolved so did our eating habits. The desire for “fast food” was one of the factors which brought about a change in food preparation and consumption. Our non-stop schedules required the
Providing a sustainable food supply also meant that the creation of food preservatives would contribute another factor of malnutrition. The creation of complex substances to prevent spoilage, have consequences on the body that are not yet fully understood. The debate over their effect on us changes almost daily. What we used to consider as malnourishment was simply starvation. These days we are not starving for substance, we are starving for sustenance.
The abundance of our current food supply provides a rich source of protein and fat along with carbohydrates that, while essential in limited quantity, are consumed in such large volume that they are one of the factors contributing to this dilemma. The question of balance is the one that needs to be addressed. We have a surplus of on one end of the scale and an insufficient quantity of the proper fruits and vegetables to counterbalance it.
The information that I have gathered has proven to me that weight reduction is possible through making adjustments in attitude that translate into adjustments in behavior. Together they can result in metabolic changes that help establish the desired balance that is good health.
Physical activities should be designed to the individual’s state of health. Always consult a physician before starting any program of physical training. Most people can tolerate at least a moderate level of exercise in addition to their normal activities. It takes determination and commitment to achieve any goal and none is more paramount than achieving and maintaining good health.
Our overindulgence in tobacco, alcohol and recreational drugs are additional factors that impact our health. They are the subjects of additional discussion that will not be considered here. Suffice it to say that they negative effects are clear and such practices should be limited or curtailed.
Our state of health is our personal responsibility and there is no magic bullet. Despite the promise of medical science and pharmaceutical research, there is not a pill to serve as a solution to every problem.
A full belly makes a dull brain”
~ Benjamin Franklin
The author posts additional articles on issues of life and laughter on his Blog at Hugh Cares.net.