There is a new word consistently tied with the word obesity and it is epidemic. The United States has been encountering an obesity epidemic over the last few decades. The U.S. obesity rates have almost doubled since 1997 and are currently sitting at 35.7 percent with a projection of reaching 44 percent by 2030. Anywhere between 100,000 and 400,000 deaths per year are caused by obesity and obesity related diseases. Unlike other severe disease, we know the causes and the cures.
Though there is no one specific cause of obesity there are many behaviors that are strongly associated with weight gain. For example, according to the Cleveland Clinic, cultural, social and environmental factors affect eating behaviors in the U.S. Our culture could be considered social eaters. Sidney Mintz, professor of anthropology at John Hopkins University said, “Interaction over food is the most important feature of socializing.” Business deals over dinner, parties with hors d’oeuvres, sporting events with food stands; food is everywhere people are. Another recent change in our culture is lack of family meals. A lot of families have become so absorb with other activities, formal meal time has diminished, being replaced by increased snacking, which is linked to gaining weight. Other evolving behaviors include an increase of all our labor-saving devices. Our caloric intake remains the same but our physical demands have decreased making it very easy to gain weight.
On top of changes in our behavior as a society, the foods and drinks we love to consume are less than nutritious. Burgers, fries, sodas, just to name a few, are all high in fat, carbs, or sugar and are easy and attainable. Three different studies in the United States show a link between soda and fruit drinks to obesity.
Since the causes of obesity are well known, what is being done to fix or prevent a continued increase in obesity?
The cure or prevention for obesity has been developing slowly because weight-loss efforts are situational. Depending on how overweight or obese someone is, depends on the type of method that will work best in helping them beat obesity.
For example, people who are moderately overweight prevention goes hand-in-hand with education. Strong anti-obesity efforts have been made by educational systems and state legislators by banning soft drinks and machine-dispensed snacks in certain school systems. Anti-obesity organizations have been popping up encouraging people to eat healthy and move more, such as Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. Even local hospitals, like FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, have begun offering nutrition classes for better basic health.
If education and preventative steps aren’t working, weight-loss camps could be an option. Weight-loss camps or retreats, such as the FirstHealth Weight-loss Retreat, are commonly visited by people who are 30-50 pounds overweight, have struggled on their own and are ready to make a change. It is a two week long weight-loss camp where participants learn how to change their lifestyle to lose weight in a healthy way.
As for people who obese to morbidly obese, weight-loss surgery is a safe way to lose extra weight. Obese to morbidly obese would be considered 100 pounds or more over your ideal weight. Weight-loss surgery has helped hundreds of thousands of people a year jump start their healthy lifestyle. It has also been suggested to help reduce or cure obesity comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure. To learn more about weight-loss surgery options and see which one is the best fit for you, FirstHealth’s Bariatric Center hosts a free weight-loss surgery information session the first Thursday and the third Monday of every month.
Obesity has become a serious issue in our country. There are many different weight-loss options out there to help someone who is 30 pounds or 230 pounds overweight. FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital offers weight-loss options and support for people who live in the Pinehurst, Raeford, Sanford, Lumberton, Laurinburg, Rockingham, and Troy regions of North Carolina and beyond.