A new study, reported last month by CBS News, found that although the life expectancy of Americans has been slowly increasing, obesity rates continue to climb.
Over the last twenty years, the life expectancy in America has increased by three years, and now averages 78.2 years of age. However, according to 2012 statistics by the Centers for Disease Control, 28.9 percent of American adults are obese.
It is well-known that obesity carries with it much higher risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, immobility and a host of other ailments. We may be living longer lives, but the quality of our health is suffering.
One important finding of the study is that exercise alone – without healthy eating habits – is not enough for weight loss, or for overall health. Although exercise rates are going up across the United States, the obesity epidemic is escalating.
Led by Dr. John LaPook, the study surveyed approximately four million people over the course of ten years. Results showed that in the past decade, people across most parts of the country have been exercising more, however, the national obesity rate rose by seven percent.
Obesity was found to be especially prevalent in the American Southwest. In Owsley County, Kentucky, 48 percent of men were obese; the highest rate in the country. The lowest rate of obesity was found in San Francisco, California, where only 18 percent of men were obese.
Dr. LaPook and his research team point to the Western diet as the leading risk factor for disability and death. The fast-food and processed meal habits of all-too-many Americans is taking its toll on our well-being as a nation. Even the fact that we are exercising more does not counteract the pollutants that many of us ingest on a daily basis.
Exercise, of course, has many significant benefits. Researchers found that an overweight individual who exercises is less likely to suffer from heart disease than an overweight individual who remains sedentary. However, unless paired with a healthy diet, benefits are greatly minimized.
If we want a chance at reversing the scourge of obesity that has fallen heavily upon our nation, we need to change the way we eat. This means sticking to whole, organic foods, cooking at home, including a rainbow of raw fruits and veggies, and avoiding McDonald’s and other fast food chains like the plague.
We may be living longer, but if we wish to truly enjoy our longer lives, we must make a sincere effort to improve our overall health. It is hard to make the most of a long life if we are obese, bedridden, or suffering from a debilitating illness. Living a long and healthy life should be our goal.
-The Alternative Daily