Just today Disney announced that they are banning junk-food advertising on children’s programs. While the full rules will not take effect until 2015, due to current contracts, it is a step in the right direction. Limiting the glamorization and the exposure of high fat and high sugar products to children might make progress toward decreasing national obesity rates. However, it needs to be in combination with smart choices made by educated individuals (especially parents!) By being a member of HBHL, you are already making that commitment.
Currently, 74.1% of Americans are overweight or obese. According to the CDC, recent research has revealed that childhood obesity rates have tripled for 6- to 11-year-olds, and 17% of US children—12.5 million youths 2-19 years old—are obese. Research done by the American Heart Association has also found that the arteries of obese children contain excessive fatty build-up, similar to an adult three decades older. Carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT), is a test that can quickly screen for and monitor atherosclerosis; a high level of thickness means high risk of heart disease. These children’s arteries are already showing signs of excess thickness, predicting the early development of cardiovascular diseases. Up to two-thirds of obese children become obese adults. You can prevent this from happening to yourself and to your family!
According to the “2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” poor diet and physical inactivity are the most important factors contributing to the US obesity epidemic. Only 10% of Americans eat a healthy diet—the current, typical American diet is too high in saturated fat, salt, and refined sugars and too low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium, and fiber (info from the Grantmakers in Health). Intake in excess of the daily requirements, as well as the intake of the wrong types of calories, can result in weight gain, and cause various chronic health disorders including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and osteoporosis. According to the Dept of Health and Human Services, a healthy dietary ratio is 50-60% complex carbohydrates, 25-35% protein, and 20-25% fat. The average female should consume approximately 1600-2000 calories per day, while the average male should ingest 2000-3000 calories. Most Americans and even most military members consume far more.
To break the obesity cycle within your own family, get educated on nutrition. Stay physically active. Set an example for those around you. Make small lifestyle changes that add up over time. I know I’ve said this before, but I truly believe that individuals have the power to make a difference–within themselves, within their families, and within their communities.