As a health and fitness professional, I’m often asked what has happened to the health of the US population. It’s difficult to answer such a question since the health of the US has deteriorated in many areas. For instance, environmental quality, mental health, discrimination and racism (and yes, those are societal health concerns), substance abuse, access to health care, physical activity and nutrition, and overweight and obesity are several issues that have taken a turn for the worse in the last couple of decades. While I could go on and on about all of these health concerns, this post will focus on the later issue highlighted: overweight and obesity. Our growing weight problem deserves some attention, given it has been the most prominent as of late and is getting increasingly worse as the days pass. Interestingly, it is heavily tied to the other health concerns of physical inactivity and poor nutritional habits.
Overweight and Obesity
What is alarming is the number of people in the US who are considered to be overweight or obese (69%) compared to the rest of the world (39%). While this is a global phenomenon and demands attention, the US case is distressing given it has made the “Top 10 Fattest Countries in the World” list.In fact, during the war in Iraq in the early 2000s, the US Army had to raise the age to enter to over 40yrs because much of the younger population was too overweight to enter. Even today, years after the war has started and winding down, the most common cause for rejection to enter the armed forces is obesity. According to the Mission: Readiness report, “27 percent of young Americans are too overweight to join the military.” The obesity epidemic is so prevalent in the US, back in 2005 The New York Times ran a alarming article, based on health reports, stating that “For the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancy than their parents.”
Physical Inactivity and Poor Nutritional Habits
What has happened to the US? One of the prime culprits can be pointed to inactivity. Health reports show almost 80% of Americans do not meet minimum exercise guidelines. Other reports point to the lack of meeting minimum recommended nutritional guidelines: half to over three-quarters of Americans eat less of the good stuff (e.g., fruits, vegetables, and grains) and too much of the things that contribute to adverse health conditions (e.g., saturated fats, sugars, processed foods, fast food, sodium). Because a majority of Americans lack physical activity and good nutrition, and thus has become an overweight and obese population, it scares me that this is becoming the “new normal.”
As a health and fitness professional, I continue educate my current and future clients on the importance of physical activity and nutrition. More often that comes in the form of iterating the adverse health conditions resulting from being overweight or obese: coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, abnormal blood fats, metabolic syndrome, cancer, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, obesity hypoventilation syndrome, reproductive problems, and gallstones. I also play the role of motivator and coach, giving that little push that keeps my clients moving, eating right, and finding joy in living a life that feels good both physically and mentally. I plead with you, if you have been thinking about losing weight in order to live a healthier life and just haven’t got around to it, consider Online Personal Training. It’s a flexible, convenient, and affordable way to get on track.