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Obesity Remains a "Heavy" Problem

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a noble goal in trying to reduce obesity in adult Americans to 15% (from 30%) by 2010, it was apparently too lofty to be achievable.   The percentage was established as one of the objectives of Healthy People 2010.

To truly understand the magnitude of the obesity problem in the United States, it’s necessary to look at historical data – according to a report by Reuters, only 13% of Americans were obese in the early 1960s.  By 1999, that percentage rose to 30%.

Dr. Earl S. Ford of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion led a team of colleagues in examining 23,000 people aged 20 and older who were part of the Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999-2008.

The findings over the nearly 10 year analysis were broken down by gender; in 1999-2000, 27% of the men participating in the survey were obese and 39% had abdominal obesity.  By 2008, the percentages rose to 32% and 44%, respectively.

In 1999-2000, 33% of women were obese; this percentage increased to 35% in 2007-2008.  Abdominal obesity during the same time frame rose from 56%-62%.

“Houston, We Have a Problem”

According to reports by CNN, MSNBC and other news outlets, the vast majority of doctor visits are lifestyle related; obesity is one of those lifestyle factors that affect quality of life and can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.

Although there are other variables, such as genetics and personal metabolism, overweight and obesity is a matter of simple mathematics.  In order to maintain weight, we need to burn as many calories as we take in.  Conversely, to lose weight we need to burn more calories than we consume. 

In reference to the current study mentioned above, Dr. Ford and his team say that in order to actually reduce the obesity percentage down to 15%, the average American would need to consume 500 calories a day less than they are right now or walk for nearly two hours a day.

The Fitness Factor

Although reducing the number of calories we consume can help reach weight loss goals, exercise provides the “oomph” that not only helps us lose faster, but live longer.
According to a 2009 study published in the journal Medicine and Science is Sports and Exercise, those who maintain a moderate fitness level by engaging in the minimal amount of exercise suggested by health experts live longer than those who were out of shape.
With exercise, a little goes a long way.  And, it’s never too late to get started.
Not used to exercising but want to get started?  No problem.  WebMd has the following advice in starting an exercise habit, no matter how old you are:

1. Set specific goals, such as a certain number of minutes per week.
2. Use daily reminders to keep you on track, such as putting workout times on your calendar, or keeping a gym bag in the car.
3. Invest in a good pair of athletic shoes
4. Choose a buddy or join a class. Whether this advice comes from the adage Humans desire companionship, or misery loves company doesn't really matter. The point is that social interaction helps keep us motivated.
5. Keep it simple: just walk. Walking is the easiest way to rack up fitness points through the week.

There's no need to get bogged down with too many details, such as equipment or gym membership. The simpler we keep our routines, the more likely we will make exercise a life long habit.