The Obesity Epidemic: Part 4

April 27, 2011 No Comments by Scott Isaacs MD

We are in denial.  9 out of 10 people believe they eat a healthy diet.  Compared to 100 years ago, Americans consume 62% more meat, 870% more cheese, 1600% more frozen dairy products and 2400% more oil. On any given day, 95% of Americans do not exercise. According to researchers at Yale University, 84% of parents take their children to a fast food restaurant at least once a week.

There are so many options for unhealthy foods available, that we have become numb to the amazing number of calories, sugar and fat they contain.  For example, DiGiorno has recently come out with a new product, a frozen pizza combined with a batch of frozen chocolate chip cookie dough.  Why not?  While you are heating up the pizza, you can bake a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies.  Ben Popkin comments in his blog consumerist.com, “The only thing this is missing is a side of lard dipping sauce. Yes, you would dip both products in it.”  DiGiorno also is planning on launching the Three Meat Pizza and Boneless Wyngz box (Wyngz implies that they are some sort of chicken/meat product).   The high calorie options seem endless. But is this really the best way to go?

The journal Circulation reported that children who eat fruits and vegetables have healthier arteries and that eating fewer fruits and vegetables caused stiffening of the arteries and future heart problems. The Journal of Nutrition reported that blueberries decrease risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that eating fish once-a-week decreases the age-related hearing loss. Women with a healthy diet have 30% lower breast cancer rates. Higher levels of alpha-carotene in the blood, found in fruits and vegetables, reduces the risk of dying by 40%. 

“No one wants to admit that they don’t eat vegetables.” –New York Times

Children who exercise have more brain cells and better brain connections than those who don’t exercise.  A study found that 10 minute exercise breaks during school led to higher test scores as well as higher activity levels outside of school. Physically fit children score higher on intelligence tests, have better attention spans and better high brain functions coordinating complex thoughts, known as “executive control.” College students who exercise regularly get better grades.  Students with a G.P.A. of 3.5 or higher were three times more likely to exercise regularly.

“10-minute breaks during the school day could do more to forward the goals of No Child Left Behind than time spent trying to stuff math and English into students’ heads.” –New York Times

As overweight people approach their 40s and 50s, they experience a more pronounced and more rapid decline in brain function. A 9 year study, published in the journal Neurology showed that walking just a mile each day can cut your risk of cognitive decline or dementia in half.  Even small amounts of exercise can increase connections between brain circuits and can improve memory.

The bottom line is that eating more healthy food and exercising more will push away the unhealthy behaviors.  The DiGiorno pizza and cookie combo will just seem like something that other people eat…not you!

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