If we need any proof that there is an obesity epidemic underway, all we need to do is head out to virtually any public location and look around. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1 in every 3 American adults (34.9 percent) are obese. Among children and teens aged 2 to 19 years old, 1 in every 5 to 6 has obesity (17 percent).
These figures include only the number of people who have obesity and do not include the number of people who are merely overweight. These statistics are troubling because the obesity epidemic is placing a strain on our health, our longevity and our health care. About a quarter of everyone we love is at an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer because of issues with weight.
The obesity epidemic isn’t without a cause. In fact, there are many contributing factors that come together to turn this from a rare occurrence into a growing health issue. These include:
To start, there are indeed some of us who are predisposed to struggles with weight gain because of our genetics. Studies show that parents with obesity are more likely to have children who face the same struggles and lean parents are more likely to have lean kids.
The typical American diet places many us at a direct risk of insulin resistance. This raises insulin levels throughout the body, boosting fat storage in certain key areas.
This hormone is produced by our fat cells. The more fat we have, the more leptin we have and the more leptin we have, the greater the brain’s tolerance to it. Leptin resistance is believed to be a top risk factor in developing obesity.
Junk food isn’t just a bit of colored sugar or fried potatoes anymore. They typically include long lists of refined ingredients and chemical flavor enhancers. These make the foods cheap, with a long shelf life and an awesome taste. They taste so good that we crave them – sometimes several times per day.
With all the flavor enhanced great tasting foods out there, actual food addictions are becoming increasingly common, particularly where sugar is concerned.
This is especially impactful when the marketing is aimed at kids. Junk food marketing tactics are highly strategic and make us find their foods more appealing than healthier options.
Many pharmaceutical drugs come with side effects that promote weight gain in various ways. As more of us are taking prescription medications than ever before, this means that the risk is also greater than it ever has been.
At the same time that we are very fortunate to have widely available food, this availability also means that we have a greater opportunity to overeat.
Sugar isn’t just in sweet foods. Have a look at nutrition labels and ingredients lists. It’s everywhere, including everything from pasta sauce to peanut butter.
Misinformation about nutrition, weight and dieting is everywhere. Social media is packed with it. The top source of info for any dieter should be a doctor.