The Trust for America’s Health recently gave America a “F for Fat.” Are we surprised? Some highlights of the study include:
- Obesity rates increased in 23 states, and did not decrease in a single state last year.
- The number of overweight children topped 30% in 30 states last year.
- Adult obesity rates now exceed 25 percent in 31 states and exceed 20 percent in 49 states and Washington, D.C.
- As the Baby Boomer generation ages, obesity-related costs to Medicare and Medicaid are likely to grow significantly because of the large number of people in this population and its high rate of obesity.
These numbers are staggering and sobering, and quite frankly, they scare me a little bit. Not only are we getting bigger as a country, but our children are getting bigger too. I know it’s true, just by looking around when I go out shopping. Everywhere I look there are people who are obviously struggling with their weight. It saddens me that instead of getting healthier as more money is poured into government programs, we are getting more unhealthy, and passing our unhealthy lifestyles on to our children.
To anyone who is walking the weight loss journey today, I want to tell you thank you. Thank you for not waiting for the perfect time, or the perfect plan, but rather for stepping out in faith to once again try and get healthy. Every time you make a good food choice you are doing something positive for yourself, and ultimately for your family. Walking, swimming, running and moving push you one step closer towards getting fit. Passing on desserts you don’t love, and opting instead for a healthy treat gives you more energy and improves your self esteem.
Americans are well informed, connected people, and most of us know what we should and shouldn’t be eating. School programs encouraging nutrition have increased exponentially, but haven’t seemed to make a difference in childhood obesity. Government spending on food studies, and new food pyramids abound, but we continue to get fatter. What has to change for us to quit killing ourselves by overeating?
I believe that true change has to come from grassroots efforts, not governmental efforts. For young children, it’s the parents who generally control what food comes into the house, and into their children’s bodies. The occasional birthday party, or trip thru the fast food restaurant doesn’t make children heavy. It’s the abundance of fatty food and lack of exercise that are contributing to childhood obesity. As a Mom myself, I know that I am responsible for trying to teach my children healthy habits. They are one of the biggest reasons I pushed through and lost all my weight. What they do in adulthood is their decision, but while they are small, it’s mine.
Young adults on their own for the first time are often attracted to the lure and ease of fast food restaurants, and the first time freedom to purchase whatever food strikes their fancy. If they are anything like me, this can start them on the path to obesity. This is where education, education, education comes in, and programs may help. Encouraging young adults to avoid obesity by staying active and making good health choices may be an option, although practically I’m not sure how this would work.
What it boils down to for me is this. One by one, we can choose to make a change. And every person who wins their own personal war on obesity is one less person who will suffer the health consequences as a result. This will reduce the health costs for all of us in the long run. I’d encourage you to take time and read the study. Notice where your state falls in the rankings, and decide to be one less statistic. Diane