Monday, December 18

Exercise Alone Won't Solve America's Obesity Problems

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It’s evident that America should become more active. Even amongst non-obese Americans, their physical fitness is not up to par. I should mention that this problem isn’t an “American” problem. America is a country with high obesity rates, but it’s far from the only country. However, it’s absolutely ridiculously to suggest being more active will cure an obesity problem. It will help, but it won’t cure anything. Exercise is not a magical device that will make your life fall into order. It can, but it doesn’t always do this. A person can exercise regularly and be obese. It’s a matter of whether or not a person is eating the proper amount of calories. The caloric intake required to become obese is high enough that even a relatively strong exercise regiment will not eliminate the obesity.

Fast food meals often contain more calories than the daily recommended intake. This means a single meal can already put you on a direction towards weight gain. With high working hours, people are stressed. They might grab a quick meal at a local fast food joint. People think nutrition facts are obvious. I know people who would agree McDonald’s is a healthy meal. There is a huge failure in the education system when it comes to healthy eating. Some people turn to restaurants, but meals in restaurants are typically both high in calories and contain large portions. The more a person feels they “get their money’s worth,” the more likely they are to come back to the restaurant. Bigger portions are often used at the expense of healthy ingredients to create an even more unhealthy meal.

After we realize our dining out habits are contributing to weight problems, we might try cooking our own meals. Society is full of hard-working people who are bombarded with images of deliciously unhealthy foods. We buy chicken nuggets, french fries, etc, thinking it’s healthier because we bought it from the grocery store. Restaurants and groceries stores often use the same ingredients. The restaurant buys the potato and the supermarket buys the pre-cut potato. It’s all the same. Then our single mother tries to do what’s right for her family and eat healthy. Unfortunately, she discovers that many of the healthy choices are exorbitantly priced. When demand for unhealthy products is so high, companies can mass produce and provide lower prices. Since healthy choices are often less popular, the health-conscious eater is often left with a higher bill.

We can eat healthy are a relatively low price, but it’s hard for many people. It might not even occur to them that they are eating unhealthy. They’ve never received the right information. Oprah and television celebrities will tell you the healthy recipes, but they often don’t go into enough detail. They often ignore proper portions, the importance of buying the right ingredients, and other factors.

A society where profit and convenience is valued over health, by consumer and buyer alike, is the major reason for obesity in America. It’s a vicious cycle when parents pass on this kind of lifestyle to their children. We need to change our attitudes toward obesity. We don’t feel awkward trying to get a loved one to stop smoking. We shouldn’t feel awkward about encouraging someone to lose weight or exercise more (as weight isn’t the equivalent of health). It’s all about how you discuss the issues. We don’t need to demean people. We need to educate them and encourage them to make better choices.

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