Obesity is a uniquely American epidemic. Driven by unhealthy diets and a lack of physical activity, up to 66 percent of all Americans are overweight or obese. It is compared to 37 percent of all people worldwide. Twenty-nine percent of American children are overweight or obese, compared to only 14 percent of children worldwide. While a few other countries like Egypt and Samoa have higher obesity rates than the United States, it is a serious problem which must be addressed by physicians.
Dr. Thomas V. Taylor, a bariatric surgery expert, explains the reasons why Americans are obese and offer a way forward for a healthier life.
The American diet may be the worst culprit when it comes to rising obesity rates. Americans frequently eat foods that are high in saturated fat and sodium, like bacon, sausage, and other processed meats. Americans, in general, eat too many refined carbohydrates. These convert to fat more quickly in the body and provide bulk in calories without adequate nutrition.
According to Dr. Thomas V. Taylor, Americans also have a severe problem with added sugars. Many Americans regularly consume beverages like sodas, juices, or sweetened iced tea and coffee. Sugary drinks are deceptive because they do not relieve hunger, yet they contain a great many calories.
To solve this problem, Dr. Thomas Taylor recommends that Americans follow a Mediterranean diet that consists of whole foods like lean meats, fish, vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil. It can be supplemented with small amounts of sugars and other treats. Processed food should not form the backbone of the diet.
Americans do not get enough exercise. Fewer than 5 percent of adults participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. As few as 15 minutes per day are associated with greater lifespans and better health. Americans need to exercise to gain a healthier body shape.
When planning an exercise regimen, it is necessary to start small. If a person has been inactive, too much physical activity at first can cause injury. It is imperative, to begin with, small and attainable goals and to add physical activity as the body becomes accustomed to it. Even 15 minutes of walking a few times a week are enough to get started. The body will get stronger, and patients will see increased endurance.
Exercise is essential in promoting healthy metabolism. An active person can eat more calories while remaining slim. When food is not adequately metabolized, it can lead to fat deposits.
In a Catch-22, many Americans do not exercise because they suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. These conditions can be reversed or prevented with proper diet and exercise. When a person gives up on being able to exercise due to their physical limitations, they are unlikely to lose weight and may be subject to further problems.
High blood pressure is very common in America. Inactivity and overconsumption of sodium in the diet are associated with high blood pressure. If patients follow the DASH diet as recommended by the Mayo Clinic, they are likely to see their blood pressure numbers go down and may have an easier time keeping their blood sugar under control.
Americans often center their days around spending time at a screen. Many people need to spend eight hours a day sitting at a computer, and then they go home and spend eight hours in front of the television. This sedentary lifestyle can be very damaging to the body and can lead to obesity. Americans’ digital device addiction has spread around the world, but other countries have an easier time incorporating physical activity into their lives.
Dr. Thomas Taylor believes that the American obesity epidemic is reversible. If overweight and obese people make simple changes to their daily routines, they may be able to achieve better health outcomes. Starting small is essential, with changes like eliminating sugary drinks and taking short walks several times a week. Even the most obese person can benefit from a sensible diet and exercise. Bariatric surgery can also help obese people who are willing to make serious changes to their lifestyles.