Hello My Friends
Welcome to The Vitality Project.
I recently read a very important report written and published by The Chan School Of Public Health at Harvard University.
The report has one large ask….CAN WE STOP THIS EPIDEMIC!
My answer to this question is yes if we focus our attention to the individual and stop trying to influence governments and industry to change their own policies which could greatly influence many core reasons why there is an obesity epidemic to begin with!
During the 1970-80’s, there were two emerging health problems beginning to develop in the western world which received attention. The first one was HIV and the second was obesity. Now, of course since each condition were very dissimilar with HIV demanding a greater degree of attention as it began to spread and obesity was considered a disease of the “good life”, the manner with with each were approached from a treatment and prevention standpoint were very different.
Obesity, despite continual warnings has continually shown a steady increase in prevalence not just in the western world but globally. It has gotten to the stage that our food supply, manufacturing process, labeling, retail outlets and our reliance upon technology has not only supported an obese society, it has encouraged and reinforced it!
Here are some sobering statistics.
As of 2014, data gathered in the US indicates that over 70% of the American population is either overweight or obese based upon BMI calculations!
Other research has also clearly indicated that compared to those with a normal or healthy weight, folks who are obese have a greatly increased risk for dying of all causes, specifically from cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and certain cancers (20 percent of cancers in women and 16 percent in men are related to obesity)in addition to, depression, anxiety, and many other chronic health complications.
It gets worse!
The same research conducted on 2016 has also indicated that those who are classified as obese have a reduced degree of longevity such that any improvement in the life span of North Americans previously attributed to a reduction in smoking are all but eliminated at this point!
This epidemic has sadly began within the population of our children.
Again, previous research conducted in 1987 indicated that children between the ages of 6-11 living between 1963-1980 experienced a 54% increase in obesity and an astounding 98% increase in morbid obesity. Similar findings were also published indicating that an approaching epidemic was eminent based upon the types of foods consumed and the numbers of hours spend in sedentary behaviors. Soon followed a cooresponding increase in the incidence of obesity in other age-groups uniformly.
This caption was published in a leading US medical journal in 1999.
“Rarely do chronic conditions such as obesity spread with the speed and dispersion characteristic of a communicable disease epidemic.”
So….what can be done to help stop this trend?
- Prevention: Obesity begins in childhood (90% of children who are obese become obese adults) but the proportion of weight gained during a lifetime typically occurs from age 18-55. So the time to act is when you have kids (parents are completely responsible for this in my view) or when you are overweight and have gained but are in your min-20’s, this is the time to act because this trend is likely to continue and it becomes much more difficult when you are 55-60. (30-40 Lbs. later)
- Stop Recommending The wrong Advice: Remember the the low-fat higher carb. diet recommended for decades and still is to this very day. What an abysmal failure!
- Changes To What People Are Prepared To Do (Changing Their Thinking): Real Change demands a change in thinking followed by a change in action or behavior. Changes to government health policy, food labeling, the food retail business including grocery stores must take place if we as a society are ever to stand any kind of a chance at doing something constructive about this. Laws and policy that increases food safety and generates government revenue from higher taxes can help off-set the enormous costs in added health spending associated with this epidemic.
Some sobering facts to consider….
The amount of money spent by soft drink companies and the American Beverage Association to stop added soda tax proposals in 4 American cities, 38 million.
The amount of money spent in 2016 by the USDA Team Nutrition program to promoted healthy eating in schools nation-wide, 15.5 million.
Yes….the topic of personal responsibility weights very heavy in this discussion because when you remove it (as so typically is the case) there is nowhere to go because the solutions really end at each person including their own behavior.
I don’t advocate for “fat shaming” but I do encourage taking responsibility for your own health and trying to do what you can to help yourself up to and including a change in thinking and a resultant change in behavior spearheading your ability to change and become a healthier person!
Dr. Kevin J. McLaughlin
The Vitality Project