By Mary Rains
Mille Lacs Health System
It has been said that more people in the US die of too much food than too little. The facts are, more than 35 percent of adults are obese, and 34 percent are overweight. Nearly 32 percent of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. That’s three times the prevalence from just one generation ago.
A recent study from Cornell University found the overall diets of those who are obese, combined with exercise and portion control, had more to do with being overweight than the targeting of specific “bad calorie” foods. And though the good news is that Americans as a whole are consuming less soda, the bad news is that they are exercising less as computers, television viewing habits, and social media take center stage in so many people’s lives.
And children are not faring any better. Nearly 1 in 3 is overweight or obese, and two or more hours a day of “screen time” in children has been linked to unhealthy weight patterns, which include obesity.
There’s more than one way to make sure you don’t end up with the side-effects of being overweight (heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) First, practice portion control. If you find it difficult to balance food choices and eat the right combinations of healthy foods, you can do a lot for your waistline by just eating less. Second, get enough sleep. Sleep helps reduce the stress hormones that make us gain weight, and assists our metabolism in righting itself to burn fat more efficiently. Third, most “fad” diets don’t help people sustain weight loss. But sensible, healthy eating does. If you reduced your caloric intake by 100 calories a day, and also walked for 20 minutes a day, you could see a 15-20 lb. weight loss over the course of a year. That would push many overweight people into a healthy weight category, without a lot of complicated changes in their lives. In fact, many small changes can help you get to the weight you’d like to be, such as giving up that 200-calorie soda or latte every day.
Finally, remember that your own body type is something you can’t change. Ectomorph body-type individuals are lean and not very muscular and have trouble gaining weight. People with mesomorph body types can lose and gain weight easily and are generally strong and athletic. Endomorphs have rounder, soft bodies that gain muscle and fat very easily and have slower metabolisms. While you can’t change what nature gave you, you can use the week of Jan. 20-26 (Healthy Weight Week) to do some research into “doable” modifications of your lifestyle.