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By Eric Cho
Obesity has become a huge problem for most people living in developed countries. Today, 30% of children between the ages of 10 and 17 are obese and 60% of all adults are either overweight or obese. There are many reasons for our overweight problem.
Obesity is responsible for increased rates of stroke, heart attack, type II diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. In fact it is responsible for as many premature deaths as smoking. Obesity has now become a threat to our longevity.
On the surface it would seem that the underlying reason is really quite simple. If a person takes in more calories than the person burns, weight gain is the final outcome. These factors certainly play a role in obesity but there are more factors which contribute to this problem.
Modern society has changed a great deal from just a couple of generations ago when agriculture and manual labor were common place. Today people spend a great deal of the day sitting at a desk in an office, driving the car, or relaxing on the sofa at home. All of which has affected the overall health of people living in developed countries.
By the time a person arrives home, the last thing most are thinking about is going for a walk or heading off to the gym. Combine that with the idea that as a nation we eat just as much food, if not more than our ancestors did without nearly as much physical exertion and suddenly the recipe for obesity becomes very clear.
But there is more to it. Statistics show that we have actually doubled our food intake. This is where the fast food industry is to blame. Everything has been super sized and not in a good way either with most of these foods being high in trans fatty acids (the bad fat) and sugar, it is easy to see that weight gain is inevitable.
But the fast food industry cannot take all the credit. Our schooling system has allowed vending machines to offer children fast food and soft drinks with provides no nutritional value and empty calories. School cafeterias that serve food are hardly a step above fast food. Add to that, most parents nowadays don t have time to cook traditional wholesome foods due their hectic work schedule and as a result buy convenience foods which are also high in fat and sugar and low in nutrition.
As well both children and adults are now more sedentary than any other time in history. PE is no longer mandatory in schools; recess time has almost disappeared, after school play time has been replaced with the Xbox or Gameboy. Now instead of the entire body getting a workout only the thumbs do.
Most adults are too busy or too tired to add an exercise regime to their day and even something as simple as a walk can seem demanding. The result is people do not have time to burn off all those excess calories that they are consuming through the day.
Statistics show that if adults in the home are overweight then chances are that their children will also be overweight. Statistics have shown that when adults in the home are not physically active children in the home will not be active either. Studies have confirmed that both good and bad eating habits are developed in the home. It is a combination of what adults allow their children to eat and what they serve their children which is contributing to our overweight crisis.
The reasons for our overweight problem are complex. Increasing physical activity and improving nutrition are great ways to start to work towards a solution to this predicament.
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