Last week the media released a report on where we stand on fighting the obesity epidemic. And it wasn’t good.
Medical professionals and researchers have found that approximately 35% of American adults fall into the “obese” range, which the Center for Disease Control defines by a person’s “body mass index.” One is considered obese when their BMI – a measure of their height to weight ratio -- weighs in at 30 or higher. For example, a person who is 5-foot-9 would be considered obese at 203 pounds or more. At least 30 percent of adults were obese in 13 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. In 2011, a dozen states reached that threshold. It’s a problem that we, pun intended, need to out grow.
For years, researchers have discussed the possibility that obesity and addiction are similar, with evidence suggesting that the same reward circuits in the brain respond equally to drugs and calories. Addicts, who depend on alcohol or drugs to reach a state of euphoria, often fall short because they can never achieve the “high” they are looking for. Findings show that this might also be the case with obesity -- which obese people might overindulge because their brains’ reward circuitry, which responds to the pleasure of eating, is out of whack.
Yesterday, on the CNN morning show titled “New Day,” a story
ran calling all diets to the mat
claiming that dieting “just doesn’t work”. The segment, called “Shocker: Change Your Bad Behavior, Lose
Weight,” made valid points and ones that would help curb the obesity epidemic.
As Americans, myself included, we’re into instant gratification. “I want to lose 10 pounds by the time I leave for the beach,” when the vacation is next week. So, we juice and we cut out carbs and we look for the quick fix to get us to the ideal weight on the scale, until after vacation when we’re back to old behaviors and regular routines. Again, been there, done that.
Dr. Roshini Raj, a physician at NYU Medical Center and Contributing Medical Editor to Health Magazine, talks about tackling the issue from a holistic standpoint. Not just cut out certain foods, but to really look at the behavior that’s being exhibited before, during and after eating; join a support group and talk to a therapist. What’s interesting is that her suggestions are in line with what is recommended for an addict – why do you overindulge, find others who are struggling and can relate and seek outside help for your addiction.
There are sayings such as “Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym” and “You can’t out exercise a bad diet.” All of which are true. Dr. Raj has an excellent point that it’s not simply about a diet; it’s about your lifestyle. Make time to work out. Cook wholesome foods at home. Get an adequate amount of sleep.
I find it humorous when people say to me “I don’t have time to work out” or “I don’t have time to cook, so we went to McDonalds.” Need more time in the day? Skip an hour of TV watching (or workout while watching). No time to cook? Subway is equally as quick as McDonald's, but with their "Heart Healthy Options" provides mom's-on-the-go with more healthful choices. There are loads of recipe books that create a healthful meal in 30-minutes or less. And your kids only like those foods, because you – the parent – prepare them.
The good news is that childhood obesity is on the decline, but it’s also been documented that this generation of children who will die of complications or illnesses caused by obesity and will be the first who won’t outlive their parents. It’s frightening. My favorite Gandhi saying is “Be the change you wish to see in the World.” So, what are we waiting for? Life starts today.