It’s in the papers and it’s on the news. There are pictures showing men and women from various races, with their bellies hanging over their belts and thighs so big they waddle when they walk. Now it is becoming a learned behavior by our youth. They too are exercising less, eating more and becoming increasingly heavier as a result. None of this is healthy.
So the population is getting heavier and unhealthier by the year. We are being categorized into two groups. One is obesity, which is being heavier than the government standard only because of increased fat. The other is overweight, which acknowledges excess weight can be attributed to muscle, water, bone or fat. Men are typically in the 20 – 40 percent body fat range, while women tend to be in the 30 – 50 percent range. Part of this is because of genetics and males having more muscle than women.
Bodybuilders will weigh more due to increased muscle mass but they clearly can’t be considered overweight. Most of us can look in the mirror and figure out if we need to lose a few pounds. This “look at yourself” scale is good for the vast majority of people.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) the number of overweight people has risen 20 percent, while the number of obese people (based on fat) has more than doubled, during the same time frame. Some reports show the number of kids overweight or obese, doubling in the last twenty years and the number of overweight teenagers tripling.These numbers aren’t good.
The rising numbers put a strain on our healthcare system. It has been found that this increase in our overweight and obese population is driving healthcare costs higher. They estimated 92 billion dollars a year was the cost to the healthcare system.
There are more costs that could be added if you consider the amount of lost work production that accompanies the treatment of these health problems. The CDC also estimates that the working class from 17 – 64 years of age cost approximately $4 billion in lost production due to missed days, doctor’s visits, and restrictions related to obesity.
Due to lifestyles, family, lack of motivation or employment demands, many of us don’t eat well or get the exercise we should. Some people may not care, but poor diet and lack of exercise are almost ready to overtake smoking as the number one cause of preventable deaths.
The more weight our bodies carry the more stress there is on our joints, muscles and spines. Each additional 10 pounds equates to 50 pounds of pressure to the knees and 10 pounds in the stomach region equals 100 pounds of pressure to our backs. There is also a direct correlation between proper weight and abnormal stress to the spine and posture. Obesity and inactivity affects internal health manifesting in heart problems, diabetes, reduced flexibility and ranges of motion.
There are other situations that can cause weight gain like tumors and water retention. In some cases your thyroid, an organ in your neck, could be unhealthy and sending the wrong information to your body. It is part of the Endocrine System, which is responsible for releasing the right amount of hormones to specific organs in your body to regulate mood, growth and metabolism.
Conditions like Hypothyroidism, in which your thyroid is functioning less than optimally, will slow your metabolism regardless of any exercise you do to try and raise it. Another example of an endocrine disorder would be Cushing’s Syndrome. In this disease the body releases far too much cortisol, which encourages the storage of fat within the body.
If you have any health concerns, or can’t lose weight on your own, your medical doctor can order some blood work and run tests. Lab work will help identify or further confirm your condition. Tests also help your doctor determine how to treat your condition and establish treatment, supplements, medications or therapy that may help you.
Sometimes we reward our kids with sweets when they do something well. “Finish your Brussels sprouts and you can have dessert.” If I got A’s on my report card we went for a hot fudge sundae. The technique works. Sometimes we even reward ourselves as adults if we’ve worked hard or have been under stress. A nice brownie or ice cream cone always makes the day better. Those calories can add up. This type of reward may have some consequences to your well being so choose wisely and make healthy choices.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL
Parents can lead by example. Maybe it’s time you got off the couch too. Don’t just come home and spend the evening on the couch in front of the idiot box. Interact with the family, work on a project or shoot some baskets with the kids.
Don’t let your children play games on the TV or computer for four hours a day. Make sure they are involved with something active. Limit their time with electronics and enrich their life with outdoor activities and sports. As a kid we used to ride our bikes around a 4.5 mile block that would give the Tour de France riders a run for their money. And we survived without helmets. Times have changed. Now, you need helmet protection and have to worry someone is going to grab your kid. What have we become? Anyway, next time you buy gifts for a child make sure they are geared toward exercise like a Nerf football, Frisbee, rocket set, or kickball.
There are however some new computer games that really are interactive. Decathlons in which you have to do all of the events, baseball and golf games that require you to swing to hit the ball, or dance revolution, which can all burn some calories as you test your footwork on the dance floor. They’re also a lot of fun for people of all ages. I just played boxing with my nephews and after a few rounds I was a sweaty mess. I almost called 911. If everyone started boxing like that they could lose weight and have fun with the family at the same time. You might even claim the Heavyweight Championship. Are you ready to rumble?
Kids often eat what we feed them; well, after their picky years. If we put unhealthy foods on the table or in the pantry, then there’s a good chance it will be eaten. And, probably not in the intended serving size. Teach your children about good nutrition and portions.
YOU MAKE THE CALL
People who are classified as overweight and obese, and have been influenced by poor diet and inactivity, have an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep disorders, asthma, depression, heartburn, joint problems, and poor health status.Even at an early age, obese children have been found to have cardiac profiles regarding heart rates, blood pressure and cardiac output that were higher than non-obese children of the same age.
Adult onset diabetes is now becoming so common in adolescents and children due to their increasing sizethat it is being estimated that one of every three children born in the year 2000 will become diabetic in their lifetime.The numbers of kids taking meds have increased due to Diabetes Type 2, which is known as adult onset Diabetes.
Our country is the leader for many great things, except when it comes to the “Human Race.” We continue to get bigger and “badder,” when referring to our health anyway. One estimate is that more than 34 percent of the American population over 20 years of age is overweight. Sadly almost 33 percent of the population is obese, meaning they have large amounts of fat on their bodies, which can have a deadly effect on their health and their families.
In general, overweight kids who reach six years of age have a greater than 50 percent chance to become overweight as an adult, but when they reach their teenage years, the number increases to 70 – 80 percent.Having at least one obese parent will also increase the likelihood of future obesity in the child. Don’t just set the table, set an example.
GIVE ME THE GOOD STUFF
What are our kids eating in school? Grease-laden crap! Pizza with fries. Cheeseburgers with fries. That cafeteria lunch is a great place to make a difference in your child’s health. Pack them a healthy lunch a couple of days a week. Maybe meet with your school and see if they can make any changes. A child’s early years are when poor dietary habits can start the development of heart disease and osteoporosis.
Some districts have removed the soda machines from their schools. AWESOME! That is a great start considering carbonated beverages have been found to deplete the calcium levels in the bones of teenage girls making them more susceptible to fractures and developing osteoporosis later in life. It isn’t healthy for boys either.
If you want to monitor what your kids are eating, why not try a web site like www.mylunchmoney.com? For a small fee they will keep tabs on what your little angels are buying. You just log on and view who was sneaking cookies instead of broccoli.
The carbonated soft drink has become Americans’ number one source of calories. The soda giants marketing campaigns spend $200 million or more in advertising to target their audiences, whereas only $1 million is spent to promote the importance of consuming five vegetables a day.
These drinks can either add up the calories by themselves, create a feeling of hunger that tricks you into eating more, or may even take the place of more nutritious foods and drinks. Unless you’re planning on wrestling off your dinner and expending serious calories, you can put the sporty, sugar-filled drink back into the refrigerator too.
MythBusters found cola to be an effective rust remover. Imagine what that “battery acid” is doing to your teeth and your insides! A friend switched to minimizing his soda intake and replaced it with drinking water again. He can’t believe it. The aches and pains in his joints have disappeared, probably because less sugars means less inflammation in the body. He’s losing weight and not even trying.
Although sodas can’t be totally blamed for diabetes, there has to be some responsibility placed on the individual to know their genetic tendencies, people need to watch the amount of sugar they take in, limit their calories and to exercise regularly. However, there have been strong links to diabetes for consumers drinking one to two soft drinks a day. The occurrence of diabetes was
twice as great in those who drank one per month. Which category are you in? Where would you like to be?
A child’s diet is important for many reasons. A brief list would include that it is vital to their health, enhances athletic ability, maintains alertness, supplies energy for brain power, creates good habits early on and because kids in school can be ruthless about weight.
Imagine your child, or remember how kids who were tall, fat, developed early, skinny or basically a little different, were treated. Comments to the “fat kid” were cruel and hurtful. How does that influence children as they grow up? How do their classmates respond to the attractive girl or the star athlete? Who do you think goes through school with confidence and is popular with the other kids? Who do you think is suffering from low self-esteem?How does that affect their education and future? Some kids contemplate suicide due to the constant teasing about their weight.
YOU ARE YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY
Everybody loves the holidays. They are fun and cheerful, and overindulgence runs rampant from Thanksgiving to Easter. That’s five months or almost half the year, we celebrate with gorging ourselves and eating unhealthily. It’s so easy to put on weight in preparation for winter months … “even a caveman could do it.”
We kick off food fest with Halloween. It is a great way to make every dentist busier and richer. All that sugar and sticky, chewy candy is enough to fill the appointment book for months. Not to mention the stuff we buy for the neighborhood, just happens to be our favorite. So if no one shows up, who do you think will eat all those empty calories? Guilty as charged.
Thanksgiving is next, the big meal consisting of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and all the sides, followed by too many desserts. We eat appetizers waiting for the real feast and then sit down for the meal. Next are the six pies to be consumed soon after dinner. More sugar filled calories. In between all this are the naps, because we ate too much or the sugar content was too high. Eating too much and then napping are a great 1-2 punch to gain weight.
Christmas and New Year’s parties last the entire month or longer. We bounce from one office party to another family or friend gathering. These are basically alcohol, sweets and over indulgence for thirty days. Next we have the Super Bowl and a full day of gluttony at its best.
Next we consume Valentine’s Day candy, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter candy accompanied by
another huge meal. This coincides with winter when we are typically less active in general. I know some of us can throw in a few birthday cakes along the way too. That is a lot of food.
The economic drive for the public to buy sugary crap, and gifts, for these holidays is well beyond the original meaning of any of these holidays. Combine that with a decrease in activity and excessive calories, and terrible ones at that, and you have the recipe for big weight gain. It is no wonder we get unhealthier every year.
There is no magic pill or quick dieting scheme that can provide you with safe, long-lasting weight loss. The one scientifically proven method I want you to consider and adopt is exercise. Maybe add a workout or increase the time and effort you expend in the gym when you are in there. This can also help to offset any additional special event or holiday calories that may be headed your way in the future.
Incorporate a little self-control with your eating habits during this vulnerable time period. Try a bite of this, nibble on that, skip on seconds and have some water on the rocks a couple of times during the party. This way you aren’t denied the satisfaction of trying the various foods or knocking a few cocktails back. You just aren’t adding as much to your bottom line, so to speak.
In general, if you decide to have a nice dinner out, use the same principles. You don’t have to eat all of the bread at the table. Those are empty calories. It doesn’t mean you can’t have any. Just don’t eat the whole loaf. Besides, why fill up on bread when the good stuff is about to come? When you order, look for leaner meats or things without heavy sauces. There may even be symbols next to healthier meals on the menu, or at least an opportunity to make a substitution, like egg beaters for an omelet; or skip the fries and opt for a fruit cup instead. Order drinks if you want but remember those calories add up too.
If dinner comes with any pasta or rice, try to keep it on the side because you know it may be made with heavy sauce or butter. Get your salad dressing on the side, like any sauce, so you can add it and the lettuce isn’t drowning. Flavor your salad; don’t flood it. You don’t have to eat everything on the plate. If you take some home, you can have a great lunch tomorrow.
I may even order dessert and split it with my wife. We enjoy a nice dinner out, with a dessert, and have reduced the total calories we could have eaten by using some self-control. Every bit helps.
The government has made a new chart to help people understand the right proportions of foods to put on their plate.
Do you remember the old adage, “You are what you eat?” I have always been amazed at how we put ourselves last. Consider how much care is given to our vehicles and not to our bodies. I see people flooding to the garden stores for Miracle Grow soil or another type of enriched topsoil. This way their plants get the nutrients they need to grow big and strong.
With that fancy car, how many hours are spent washing, cleaning, waxing, and polishing to make it look great, turn some heads and protect it from the elements. There is a feeling of pride when you step inside, turn the key and let her roar down the road. You stop at the gas station and fill up. Not with just any gas. Even though prices are up, you still put in the highest grade available.
Join me next time as we run through a bullet list of effective ways for you to lose weight by adding some exercise.
These topics come from my book, “Back At Your Best; Balancing the Demands of Life With the Needs of Your Body.”
It is available in book and Kindle format at Amazon, www.BAYBBook.com
and at my office.
If you have any personal health concerns or questions, feel free to email me at DrJay@BackAtYourBest.com
. I will answer them in private or in this section in a week or two.
*DISCLAIMER: THIS ADVICE AND ANY OPINIONS MENTIONED ARE THAT OF DR. JAY LIPOFF AND NOT OF THE BAYNET.
Dr. Jay M. Lipoff is the owner of Back At Your Best Chiropractic & Physical Therapy, LLC, which is located in the Wildewood Shopping Center. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University in 1990, a Doctorate of Chiropractic (D.C.) from New York Chiropractic College (NYCC) in 1994 and he became a Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) in 2005.
Dr. Lipoff is an Executive Board Member, International Chiropractic Association Council on Fitness and Sports Health Science; Co-Founder, Drug Free Training USA; Member, NY Strength-promoting the importance of physical conditioning; Board Member of Public Relations Committee, Maryland Chiropractic Association; President, Wildewood Business Network-promoting better business relations and community outreach.