Many consumers understand the basic equation behind obesity: too many calories and not enough exercise add up to excess weight. But each year, 2.6 million people die globally because of serious weight conditions, according to the World Health Organization. And many people claim they cannot find energy or motivation to combat their obesity caused by overeating and lack of exercise. This issue will continue to represent one of the most pressing international health dilemmas until governments and private sectors step in and provide support to this segment of the world population, WHO reports.
One of the pieces to the overall obesity puzzle is modern transportation. People no longer walk to nearby jobs or local shops, cafes, libraries or churches. Instead, they drive everywhere. Some communities lack sidewalks and parks, forcing citizens to depend upon cars to get to recreational areas, where they can walk and bicycle. This shift from foot traffic to roadways represents a significant lifestyle change over the past decades, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, or NIDDK. Wellness specialists suggest parking your car several rows from your customary spot at work and other locations. This forces you to incorporate extra steps into your day.
Two out of three Americans report inactive lifestyles, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reports. Lack of time and motivation top the list of reasons for this sedentary culture. Many adults contend they are too exhausted to lace up their sneakers. Other barriers are boredom or inability to establish personal wellness goals. Ideas to overcome these hurdles include turning off the television and taking family walks. Find an exercise buddy to keep you motivated. Register for a beginner's fitness class, in which the emphasis is on taking first steps, not on competing with your peers. Leash your dog for a quick stroll around the block.
Portion sizes have increased dramatically in the last 20 years, according to the CDC. Restaurants serve larger meals to entice diners to continue patronizing their locations. Grocery stores and vending machines offer bigger snacks and sugary drinks. A suitable snack should include 1 oz. of food and 8 oz. of liquids, but most products exceed those recommended amounts. Even efforts to eat healthy can backfire. Many bagels and muffins represent two serving sizes, but a consumer typically eats the entire amount in one meal without realizing she’s just downed the equivalent of two breakfasts.
Prepared foods dangle enormous temptations before busy people because of the convenience, says the NIDDK. The tradeoff is these takeout items usually contain more calories, fat and sodium than a healthy meal prepared at home. Also, to-go meals typically are devoid of nutrients or fruits and vegetable side dishes. The best defense is to arm yourself with lots of produce and healthy snacks so that something nutritious and filling is always within your reach. Learn to control your appetite by munching on grapes, raisins or almonds when you feel hungry between meals, such as when smelling the aroma of fried foods as you pass by your favorite fast-food spot.
- World Health Organization; 10 Facts on Obesity; February 2010
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Understanding Adult Obesity
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Physical Activity for Everyone; February 2011
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Do Increased Portion Sizes Affect How Much We Eat?