Fighting the Obesity Epidemic with Common Sense Eating and Exercise!
"Let them eat cake!"
According to a popular (but false) myth that has circulated for over a century, French Queen Marie Antoinette, upon hearing that the French peasants were starving and had no bread, replied with the caustic phrase, "Let them eat cake."
We now know Queen Marie never actually said "let them eat cake" (link goes to the Wikipedia article discussing the real origins of that phrase, if you're curious).
However, we also now know that 21st century Americans' fondness for cake, cookies, soft drinks, and other junk food loaded with empty calories, has combined with the sedentary lifestyle of many Americans to become two major factors in our current epidemic of obesity.
This skyrocketing obesity is causing an increasing variety of additional health problems including several potentially deadly chronic diseases.
In some parts of the world, a lack of access to sufficient food is the tragedy that kills people. However, in the U.S., our pattern of unhealthy eating and sedentary lifestyle has been cited as the second biggest killer of Americans after smoking.
Food is something everyone needs, every day. As we know, how it is produced and who controls it are both important issues. However, the way that food is processed and currently marketed has had an adverse effect on public health and the global economy for years.
In 2004, Public Citizen uncovered secret political efforts to suppress the World Health Organization's Anti-Obesity Initiative. Learn more
In an age of "convenience", people in the West are eating more processed and fast food than ever; at the same time they are exercising less. Its no surprise that 60+% of the population is now considered fat.
More than 35% of American adults and 17% of children and adolescents (age 2-19) are now classified as obese (not just "overweight"). The adult figures have doubled since 1985; for children and adolescents it has more than tripled.
In 2000, the US healthcare system spent $61 billion on the diagnosis, care and prevention of obesity. However, the Food Industry and the Healthcare Industry both have strong interest in maintaining the status quo. In a 2009 New York Times article, Michael Pollan said: "As things stand, the health care industry finds it more profitable to treat chronic diseases than to prevent them. There's more money in amputating the limbs of diabetics than in counseling them on diet and exercise."
Last year, Americans spent about $115 billion on fast food, more than we spent on higher education, personal computers, or new cars.
Americans spend about half of our food budget on meals and drinks consumed outside the home,and consume about a third of our daily energy this way.
Get involved! Watch "The Obesity Epidemic" - Highly Recommended!
Want to learn more about our obesity epidemic and what you can do about it? Please watch the 7-minute video below. Released by CDC in July 2011, this video explains the many factors that have contributed to the current obesity epidemic and showcases several community initiatives taking place right now in various parts of the country to prevent and reduce obesity.
Obesity is a national epidemic and a major contributor to some of the leading causes of death in the U.S., including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer. We need to change our communities into places that strongly support healthy eating and active living. This video may provide some ideas you can use in your community!
The video shown below is in flash format. However, the CDC's website offers several other formats, and also offers a transcript of the video in PDF format you can read online or download. You'll want to show this one to your family and friends! If you have problems viewing this video here, go to http://www.cdc.gov/cdctv/ObesityEpidemic/.