If you ask most people about the issue of obesity in the country many of them would admit to its significance, but when you read off the numbers it becomes even more morbid to imagine. According to the Center for Disease Control’s most recent findings, obesity rates have nearly tripled since 1975, with more than a third of adults in the U.S. considered obese. However, what’s perhaps more alarming, is the fact that children and teens are also showing heightened obesity rates.
We can attribute this increasing trend of chronic obesity to a global increase in the intake of energy-dense foods that are particularly high in fat coupled with the rise in sedentary careers and lifestyles. Most people find themselves too busy to prepare balanced meals and end up feasting on packaged foods all while they sit behind their computers for hours on end. Obesity is not just a food issue— it is a lifestyle issue with very serious consequences.
The disease has become infamous for tainting the self-esteem of those who suffer from it; adolescents with the disease tend to have a poorer self-image than their slender counterparts. The teenage years are a vital part of human development and unfortunately for most, those years are also when peers can be extremely harsh. It is during these years that we develop our sense of self-worth, so it is essential that we maintain an active lifestyle that will make us feel good about ourselves.
Outside of being a cumbersome condition and carrying a social stigma, obesity can also lead to a variety of serious health conditions. Heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and hypertension are just a few of the conditions that can develop resulting from excess fat on the body. Additionally, studies have shown a link between unhealthy lifestyles and mental conditions such as depression. In fact, teenagers who perceive themselves to be in an extreme weight category—whether that be extremely overweight or extremely underweight— can be up to twice as likely to attempt suicide.
Reaching a body mass index that classifies as obese does not happen overnight; it is the product of years of unhealthy practices including lack of exercise and improper dietary habits. Likewise, achieving a healthy body and lifestyle will not happen overnight, but rather must be worked towards every day, little by little. There are tons of enjoyable ways to stay active like group yoga, cycling, or just walking your dog. And the idea that food that is good for you can’t taste good is absurd. Although healthier meals can sometimes be a bit pricey or time-consuming to prepare, your health is definitely worth it.
Start by replacing soda for sparkling water, 2-hour naps for a 20-minute jog, and that chocolate bar for yogurt or fruit. Every hour spent exercising and every nutritious meal is a step closer to a healthful life and your body—and mind—will thank you for it.
By Robyn Forbes