The sheer magnitude of the obesity epidemic is reflected in many staggering statistics. According to data published by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) this year, nearly 40% of Americans were obese in 2015 and 2016.1 This number is higher than data gathered in 2007 and 2008 when it was found that 33.7% of Americans were obese. So, why do obesity rates and the need for bariatric surgery in Houston continue to rise?
Eating Habits Have Changed
It’s estimated that Americans are spending more of their food budgets on eating away from home. It could be that ordering lunch instead of making it at home is a more convenient option. After all, healthy foods can be had at several restaurants. Unfortunately, it was found that Americans consumed more calories at restaurants even when the meals they ordered were healthy ones. How can this be? Portion sizes.
Larger Restaurant Meals
No matter how healthy your ordered meal may be, chances are you will be eating more when you go out, thanks to increasingly larger portion sizes. Again, the proof is in the numbers. It was found that Americans were consuming 459 more daily calories in 2010 than they did in 1970.2 Americans aren’t only consuming more calories in restaurants; the foods they snack on during the day are also contributing to the obesity epidemic.
Convenience Foods Are King
Many Americans live in neighborhoods where there are convenience stores aplenty. These stores—and their unhealthy food choices—are often a convenient stop for an increasingly busy population. However, that convenience comes at a cost. Over time, eating these unhealthy foods increases your weight and the risks to your health.
Rising population counts have also meant that even if the majority of Americans consumed the suggested amounts of fruits and vegetables, there simply wouldn’t be enough produce to meet this demand.
Cost, Supply, and Sugar Content of Foods
Although the minimums for fruit and vegetable intakes are realistic, at 1.5 to 2 cups and 2 to 3 cups respectively, Americans continue to struggle to consume these amounts. A large part of the issue is income—unhealthy oils, refined grains, and sugar are cheaper to buy than nutritious foods. Not only that, but the majority of the foods Americans buy are loaded with sugar, including salad dressings and breakfast cereals.
The Media’s Role
The food industry contributes to the obesity problem. Clever marketing plus engineering unhealthy foods with a high appeal is a dangerous combination. For food companies, advertising these foods with coupons, on television, and in magazines is big business—over half of the marketing done by food companies is for unhealthy foods. To make matters worse, marketing is increasing online, as well as on mobile devices.
Along with failing to consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, Americans are also moving their bodies less. Today’s modern society affords many conveniences that eliminate the need for physical activity, but, just as with convenience foods, there is a subsequent cost to our health. We drive instead of walk and spend our workdays sitting down. We come home to a sit-down meal, and then we unwind in front of the TV or on our personal devices before retiring to bed for the night.
What Are the Health Risks of Obesity?
When the calories you consume exceed those that you burn over a long period of time, your body stores these calories, making you overweight. If you continue to consume more calories than you burn, obesity can be the result. Obesity carries the high risk of developing a number of serious conditions, which include but are not limited to:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
Obesity can also cause the development of mental illness. Obese individuals may become depressed or anxious about their weight. In some cases, self-medicating with food can seem like the only solution. Unfortunately, this only worsens the condition.
Solutions for Weight Loss
Despite larger portion sizes and the prevalence of unhealthy food options, we can still get control of what we eat by considering our portion sizes, as well as considering stomach surgery. Experts suggest that, when dining out, you should always assume your calorie count will be higher.
That being said, the suggestion is to use your hand when estimating the proper portion sizes. For example, a serving of protein or lean meat that’s the size of a woman’s palm translates to approximately 200 calories.
If you’re on a budget, you can still eat healthy foods. Depending on where you live, you may have to travel outside your neighborhood to access them. Even so, by purchasing as much healthy food as possible and then freezing it, your necessary number of trips will be reduced.
For months when your budget is tighter, you can reduce the cost of food and still eat healthily. Consider purchasing frozen fruit, dry beans, and lentils.—these are all very cost-effective, healthy choices.
Adult Americans need at least 2.5 hours of exercise at a moderate level of intensity each week—a number the majority doesn’t come close to reaching. For those who are currently obese, more than 150 minutes of exercise at a moderate intensity is recommended.
There’s no need to hit the gym if you want to lose weight, either. Simply taking the stairs to the office instead of the elevator increases your physical activity level. The same is true when you move during work breaks and park farther away from the mall or grocery store.
Tracking your steps with a pedometer will reveal just how many you take in a day and allow you to plan time for more physical activity.
Other Options for Combating Obesity
When obesity is so severe that your health is in imminent danger, or you have tried to lose weight several times without success, there are ways to get obesity help. One way is to consult with a medical professional about surgery.
Although surgery may seem like a drastic option, the reality is, by continuing to be unable to lose unwanted weight, your health is at an increasingly serious risk. Today’s weight loss surgery options are not only safe, but also minimally invasive. Gastric sleeve surgery removes an average of 75% of a patient’s stomach.
Doing this not only decreases the stomach’s size, but also reduces the amount of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone,” that is being released, which decreases your appetite.
Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery
Having surgery to lose unwanted weight can improve your health in many ways. If you’ve been experiencing joint pain as the result of excess weight, surgery can relieve this pain. When you’re not in pain, you are better able to get moving, and you may eliminate once-necessary pain medications.
Another benefit of the surgery is that it will reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular problems. Following surgery, your blood pressure and cholesterol—the main causes of cardiovascular disease—can stabilize to normal levels. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, surgery can result in its remission over the long term. Those with diabetes in remission may also have no need for their medications.
If you’re trying to conceive, getting gastric bypass surgery in Houston can result in improved fertility. Many obese individuals who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea requiring a CPAP machine have greatly reduced or eliminated their need for the device following surgery.
How to Get Started
When considering surgery for weight loss, it’s absolutely critical to ensure you speak with experienced professionals who will guide you through each stage of the process. The team at Bariatric Care Centers understands the complexities and struggles of obesity. We support our patients before and after surgery to ensure long-lasting results.
We provide all patients with the tools and education they need to maintain their healthy weight for a lifetime. Are you ready to discover a new, active, and healthier way of life? Our team at Bariatric Care Centers is ready to help. Book your free consultation by calling (713) 339-1353 today.