A New Year, a New Start- Fighting the Obesity Epidemic
Fighting the Obesity Epidemic
Yesterday marked the Lunar New Year, celebrated throughout Eastern cultures. It’s as good an excuse as any to start making some real changes in ourselves and our world.
I assume by now that everyone in America knows that obesity-related diseases are the greatest health risk we face right now. Obesity is the 2nd highest cause of preventable deaths in the United States. 37.5% of our adult population is obese (16.9% of children!) and that number is rising rapidly. We’ve more than doubled the obesity rate since 1980.
While things look grim, there are small, simple steps that can change the course of our country’s health.
Making major dietary changes might seem like a good idea, those changes don’t usually stick. Adding healthier foods- effectively “crowding out” less healthy foods- makes the dietary changes easier to make and increases the likelihood that those changes will be permanent. If you prohibit certain foods, your mind will tend to focus and desire that food more. Instead of taking away mashed potatoes, add steamed broccoli to your plate. There will be less room in your stomach for that second helping of potatoes!
Increasing physical activity is a huge component of a healthier life. By introducing even brief periods of activity, you can reach the recommended 250 minutes of moderate exercise for adults. Dr. David Katz helped develop a program to do just that, using “Activity Bursts Everywhere”(ABE). Called ABE for Fitness, this program gives a library of 3-8 minute exercises that can be done at home, in the office, in a waiting room, or just about anywhere. Anyone can benefit from this program, regardless of fitness level!
There’s a similar program being used in some schools called ABC for Fitness. Activity Bursts in the Classroom has been shown to increase attention spans and academic results while reducing the rates of obesity in children.
These are minor changes, but are a start to making huge shifts in overall health. I’ll talk more about personal, customized ways change your life.