November 19, 2011 1 Comment
Recent data from the CDC 1985-2010 on obesity is a cause for concern by all Americans. As of 2010 there were approximately 33.8% adults classified as obese and 17% or 12.5 million of our youth ages 2-19 that fell into this classification. In showing that this is a national issue no state in the union had an obesity rate below 20% and 36 states had obesity rates higher than 25% also 12 states had a rate of 30% or more.
In 1990 the statistics were quite different when 10 states who participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System reported obesity prevalence at <10%. Also no state reported a rate higher than or equal to 15%.
Jump to the year 2000 where no state had an obesity prevalence lower than 10%. While 23 states reported 20-24% and no state reported a rate over 25%.
By 2010 there were no states who reported an obesity prevalence below 20%. Thirty-six states were now reporting rates of 25% (equal to or greater).
The statistics were only reporting what society was already witnessing in their everyday lives. As these statistics grow so does our concern for our children, society and the economic impacts being found in hospitals and clinics nationwide.
In the U.S. Obesity is now estimated to cost $147 bill per year. Approximately 9% medical spending can be tied to this phenomenon. It is also estimated that the obese American spends $1500 more than the average or 41% more than what is considered the average medical cost of everyday U.S. citizens (Note approximately 2009 data).
Future Dire Consequences for the Human Race
In a study done by the Endocrine Society published March 23, 2011 it was found that the hormone Ghrelin is found to be low in obese females. The study while done on mice found that lower levels of this hormone reduced the fertility of the test subjects. While Ghrelin’s specifically cannot be tied to fertility of humans it does fall into the family of hormones involved in regulating reproductive functions in humans and animals.
The lead author of the report Hugh Taylor MD. of the Yale University School of Medicine stated, “While our study involved mice we believe our findings have significant implications for women. Our results suggest that low ghrelin levels could program the development of the uterus in the female children of obese women. These women may then be less fertile as adults”.
A recent study performed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) recommends that young people should participate in physical activity of at least moderate intensity for 30 to 60 minutes each day. It is estimated that 300,000 Americans die annually as a result of a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits. This is more deaths than that from the result from infectious disease, firearms, motor vehicles, and illicit drug use combined
In some regions school age children receive gym classes only once every two weeks or once a month, when a holiday or a school assembly interferes. Prior to cost cutting measures being instituted only around 33% of students were considered obese this has now climbed to over 50% as standardized educational testing has taken on as the program of more importance versus physical education.
While the lack of physical activity is now being classified as a Major Health Risk little if anything is being done to address the issue. Yes bills are being brought forth across the country however they are gaining no traction and never reach fruition.
Sedentary lifestyles are predisposing Americans for diseases such as stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, various cancers, diabetes, depression, obesity, and much more.
American males watch on average 2 hours of television per day versus 2.4 hours for females. On top of this there is an average of 2 hours per day using computers, gaming and other social media.
Children and teenagers report on average spends 2.2 hr each day watching television, 1.9 hr each day reading or doing homework, 1.4 hr daily on the computer/Internet, 1.2 hr playing video games, and 1.1 hr daily talking on the telephone.
However the above stated data is self-reported and as with other studies of this type the figures are extremely questionable and have a higher propensity for underreporting by the study participants.
For instance another study reported found that time spent watching television, videos, DVDs, and movies averaged slightly over three hours per day among children 8 to 18 years old.
As our recent history shows we are an overly materialistic nation with to much emphasis being placed upon social status and conspicuous consumption. With two working parent households and also a 50% divorce rate all of this must be factored into the matter, however it does not point to a strong and engaged family household. Each and every day this is placing more and more responsibility on America’s children to raise themselves.
Our government via subsides and the like, reduces the overall costs for what are unhealthy foods while fruits and vegetables see none of these government incentives. We as a people want instant gratification and fast food with super-size proportions having their establishments on every street corner are not helping matters.
Can parents be expected to become more engaged in their children’s lives including proper diet and exercise, it doesn’t look promising.
How can parents restrict or control their child’s dietary intake, television viewing habits, computer, video games etc, when they are almost never around the children. Can they become involved in their children’s PTA or other school activities when their jobs will not allow for such involvement as they consume more and more of their time?
Is there any way to improve our lives and those of our children
Maybe American society can consider modifying their lifestyles from todays present mindset. If our children are one of the most important facets in parents lives as is so often spoken of possibly if this is in fact true there may be a sliver of hope.
Is it possible a more expensive or larger home, car, electronic gadget, clothing and high paying or all-time consuming jobs could be of less importance in our lives in the future. Could the family unit again become just that, where parents are actually engaged in all facets of their child’s life. If a little less income where brought into the family household could the parents then lead by example on diet and exercise among many activities, as they might then have the time.
Americans are given one shot on this planet will wealth and materialism be their legacy. Or maybe the legacy could be that of an engaged human being living life to the fullest even though one’s bank account or house might not be as large or they drive a cheaper car? Could two or even (Gasp) only 1 child that could receive more of a parent’s time and love than 2 or more be a consideration?
One can only hope and I only hope the best for all Americans and God bless all of the parents ( of which I am one) on this planet your job is more difficult than any CEO. Sometimes ideas may be unrealistic however in this case can we afford not to take some chances?