Every year, North Americans spend an enormous amount of money on weight loss diets to help them lose weight, so why is obesity still a problem? Obesity, although it is very visible in society, is one of the most neglected health problems around the world. Obesity can lead to complications including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, stroke and certain forms of cancer. Because of the significant health problems, as well as the stigma that is attached to obesity, something needs to be done to control the obesity epidemic.
Reasons why obesity is still a problem include….
1. Changes to our diets
Diets have changed drastically over the past 50 years. People are exposed to much more processed food in their diets. Processed foods have increased amounts of fat, sugar and calories. Additionally, many individuals are eating out at restaurants and fast food chains far more frequently than in the past due to their convenience. When we eat out, we tend to consume diets that contain larger portion sizes as well as less nutritious food. These changes to our diets do not make weight loss easy.
What needs to happen? We need to start eating healthy diets again. We need to consume more fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies. We need to cook in the home, where we have control over the calorie, fat and sugar content of our diets. Communities need to make access to local markets readily available as well as cost-effective for lower-income families. Eating unhealthy diets shouldn’t be cheaper than diets that contain healthy food options. If we implement these changes, weight loss should be more attainable.
2. Physical activity…or lack there of
Throughout the years, technology has advanced so much that people are spending hours on end sitting at a computer desk or in front of a television. Additionally, infrastructure in the community has made it difficult to have safe access to recreation and parks which leads to sedentary lifestyles.
What needs to happen? We need to be active no matter what – take the stairs, park your car further away from entrances to buildings, etc. Plan family time playing outside. Communities need to make it easier for families to access bike and walking paths as well as parks. Parents should limit TV or videogame time and encourage that their kids play. Parents should fight to ensure that children are receiving adequate physical activity in schools. By helping children to stay active, they will not need to fight with weight loss issues in the future.
3. Yo-Yo dieting
There are many fad diets that make promises that you will lose weight, fast. Low carb, no carb, the cabbage diet…I’m sure you’ve heard of them. Dieting is associated with weight gain over time, not weight loss. It’s a cyclical pattern, dieting to lose weight by eating a “good” food which helps you to lose weight, followed by eating delicious calorie-packed food and gaining the weight back. This type of dieting is not only unsuccessful, it’s also unhealthy.
What needs to happen? We need to stop “dieting” to lose weight and implement healthy changes to our diets. This includes adopting a lifestyle change which includes healthy foods all of the time in addition to physical activity. While these changes may be difficult in the beginning, they will get easier with time. In the long run, healthy lifestyle changes will lead to weight loss and an overall improvement in your health.
Obesity is still a problem in society because of many factors including those mentioned above. Approximately 70% of people are concerned about their weight and focus on the food that they eat in order to lose weight according to a study by the International Food Information Council. However, food is just one factor in the obesity epidemic, all factors need to be address to lower obesity rates and help to conquer the obesity epidemic.