To say that Americans are obsessed with dieting is an understatement! Pick up any magazine, tune-in or turn-on any source of advertising and you're bombarded with latest diet schemes and food fads. More often than not, they are endorsed by some familiar Hollywood celebrity, or promoted using some other cleaver technique.
It's no mystery that weight-loss industry has built a thriving empire. In America, for example, we spend about 35 billion dollars every year on an assortment of weight loss products and plans. In addition, we spend another 79 billion dollars for medication, hospitalization, and doctors to treat obesity-related problems. Even with this, obesity epidemic continues to spread. Sadly, we have become heaviest generation in our Nation's history.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that we have some very good reasons to be concerned about our weight-gain. Americans, for example are packing-on pounds faster than ever before and weight-related medical problems are taking center stage. Diseases like heart disease, diabetes and yes...even certain forms of cancer have all been linked to obesity.
Here are a few of surprising statistics about our weight:
- A whopping 64 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. That's up approximately 8 percent from overweight estimates obtained in a 1988 report.
- The percent of children who are overweight is also continuing to increase. Among children and teens ages 6-19, 15 percent or almost 9 million are overweight. That's triple what rate was in 1980!
- Nearly one-third of all adults are now classified as obese. At present, 31 percent of adults 20 years of age and over or nearly 59 million people have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, compared with 23 percent in 1994.
(The BMI is a number that shows body weight adjusted for height. For adults, a BMI of 18.5 - 24.9 is considered normal. A BMI of 25.0 - 29.9 is overweight and 30.0 or above, is considered obese.)
Modern life both at home and at work has come to revolve around moving from one "seated" position to another: whether it's television, computers, remote controls, or automobiles, we seem to be broadening scope of our inactive endeavors.
At times, life seems to have gotten almost too easy! For entertainment, we can now just sit-down, dial-up our favorite TV program or DVD movie and enjoy hours of uninterrupted entertainment...
And all those simple calorie burning activities that were once a normal part of our daily routine not so long ago? Long gone! You know ones I'm talking about...activities like climbing stairs instead of using escalators and elevators. Or, pushing a lawn mower instead of riding around on a garden tractor. And what about that daily walk to school? Now, our kids complain when school bus happens to be a few minutes late getting to bus stop!
Along with convenience of our affluent lifestyle and reduction in energy expenditure, have come changes in our diet. We are now consuming more calorie rich and nutrient deficient foods than ever before.
Here are a few examples of what we were eating in 1970's compared to our diet today (information is taken from a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture survey):