Millions of Americans are considered clinically obese. In the past 30 years the amount of obese children and adults has literally exploded in the U.S. While some of the causes of this health trend may seem obvious, there are some other less well-known theories. While these theories can be debated by experts and regular folk, everyone agrees that something must be done about the obesity problem.
What causes obesity?
Larger Serving Sizes
The “Super Size” mentality doesn’t just belong to the fast food industry. Seems like many restaurants offer huge serving sizes for everything from a chef salad, to spaghetti and meatballs, to a steak dinner. Most people have been raised to finish everything on their plate and when someone sits a giant plate of food down in front of you, you’re more likely to try and finish it without even thinking much about it.
Americans have now gotten used to eating larger portions per meal and that can translate into their own kitchens. There is a tendency to cook and serve larger meals at home too. Going back for seconds and third helpings is also common.
Eating More Fast Food
Studies have shown that the consumption of fast food meals has quadrupled from 1977 to 1996 and it’s probably grown more since then. Our increasingly busy society means that more people don’t have the time or inclination to cook meals from scratch at home.
The average fast food meal consists of foods like: big burgers, large fries, chicken nuggets, pizza with lots of toppings, stuffed to the brim tacos, heavy milkshakes and sugary soft drinks. Many items are laden with fatty cheese and sauces. Yes, these foods taste great and are okay to eat in moderation, but Americans are substituting these foods for everyday meals.
It used to be that most people ate a fairly nutritious meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner and occasionally they’d hit the fast food place. It seems like things have almost reversed themselves. For many people, at least one meal per day comes from fast food.
Lack of Physical Exercise
In order to maintain a healthy weight, eating healthy foods isn’t enough. You need to exercise on a regular basis. Now, this exercise can mean going to the gym, playing a game of tennis, biking around the neighborhood or going out for a brisk walk around the park.
Many people simply are not exercising at all, which contributes to their weight gain and ultimate unhealthy lifestyle. A lot of people have a mental block when it comes to exercise because it’s been so long since they’ve done it. It’s like exercise is almost a dirty word for some.
However, if you want to preserve your healthy weight or get back down to one, then this is a must. If adults don’t prioritize exercising for physical fitness, then the children of today are doomed to repeat the same patterns of obesity in the future – this isn’t fair to them.
A lot of people struggle with low self-esteem or not feeling very good about themselves in general. These issues are often routed in their childhood and involve thoughts that are often buried deep in the subconscious. These negative thoughts often lead people to overeat or develop food addictions.
Body image has become controversial due to the fact that super skinny models and actors are held up as the ideal standard of beauty. However, many people cannot achieve this look and shouldn’t even try.
Everyone is born with a certain natural body type and our society needs to do more to teach young people and adults that all types of bodies are to be admired and appreciated. Now, this doesn’t mean that it’s okay to be obese, but it does mean we should be more sympathetic to those who are and understand their struggles.
After all, there’s a fine line between just being overweight and becoming obese. Any one of us could cross into dangerous unhealthy territory due to bad habits. Feeling good about yourself no matter where you land on the weight scale should be everyone’s top priority.
Being Stressed Out
Stress has been identified as a leading cause of many physical ailments, including obesity. When we feel stressed, we’re more likely to turn to comfort foods that contain more fat and sugar.
Think about the last time you felt really stressed. Did you grab a healthy apple or did you open up a candy bar and wolf it down?
Stress is a part of everyday life, but more needs to be done to teach people how to control and manage stress with healthy, all natural alternatives. Eating donuts in the morning and a big sloppy hamburger at lunchtime may make you temporarily feel good, but ultimately, all that fat contributes to heart disease and diabetes. Being stressed out and overweight is often a deadly combination.
Drugs and Medication
Many drugs that people take for common maladies and health issues cause weight gain. It can be prescription medication for things like depression, diabetes, sleep disorders, birth control and blood pressure. Some steroid hormone drugs also can make you gain weight.
Often, people don’t feel they have a choice but to take this medication, leaving them feeling trapped in a heavier body they don’t really want. More study needs to be done on how to reduce or prevent this side effect.
Genetics and Family History
For some people (not many), being overweight is in their genes. If both of your parents are overweight, then there is a higher probability that you are going to be also. While studies have found that there can be a predisposition to obesity among family members, this isn’t an absolute.
Even if you do come from a family that is naturally heavier, this doesn’t mean that obesity should be allowed to just happen. Being chunky or big boned is quite different than being 300-400 pounds. Family history shouldn’t be used as an excuse to let yourself go.
With time, guidance and effort, obesity in America can be conquered, but it’s not going to be easy or happen overnight. Each one of us will have to examine our own lifestyle and take action to include healthier eating and exercise habits in our daily routine.