An August 2015 report from JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that 30 to 40 percent of men and women in the United States were either overweight or obese.1 While these statistics clearly and effectively illustrate the problem of obesity in this country, the question remains: Why are so many Americans overweight? The reasons why are many and varied.
Obesity Is a Modern Phenomenon
What’s interesting about obesity is that it is caused by humans. Even our domestic animals can become obese. However, in nature, obesity doesn’t exist. Otherwise, obese animals would be killed by predators because of their inability to move quickly. Likewise, the obese predator would die of hunger because they weren’t fit enough to hunt.
Obese figures were depicted in sculptural representations as early as 33,000 B.C. The condition of obesity was first identified by the ancient Greeks as a medical disorder in 450 B.C. However, obesity wouldn’t become a common condition until the Renaissance period between 1300-1700 A.D. when the upper class began to flaunt their larger size. However, it wouldn’t be until the early 1960s that the percentage of obese adults in America would exceed 40%.
How Do Today’s US Obesity Rates Compare to the Rest of the World?
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, collects and analyzes data from its 36 member countries to help their governments improve financial stability and economic growth.
In its 2017 Obesity Update, the OECD revealed obesity statistics in America, including that the U.S. had the highest rates of obesity at 38.2%, closely followed by Mexico, which stood at 32.4%.2 The United States was found to have the highest increases in obesity rates among children between 3 and 17 years of age when compared with children from France and England.
The OECD predicted in its update that it expected a steady increase in obesity rates until at least 2030, with levels of obesity in the United States, Mexico, and England expected to be significantly high. What are the reasons for this prevalence? Let’s explore a few of them now.
Food Deserts and Food Swamps
Any community that lacks healthy food providers, farmers markets, or grocery stores is referred to as a “food desert.” These deserts are typically located in low-income areas, and studies have suggested that, in the United States, nearly half of these low-income areas could be classified as a food desert. Not surprisingly, it has been found that residents of high-income communities have far more access to healthy foods than residents of low-income communities.
In contrast, a “food swamp” is the term used when referring to areas having too many unhealthy food options, such as fast-food. In these areas, it’s been estimated that, for every healthy food option, there may be as many as four unhealthy food options. The obesity rates of residents in these areas are higher than those of people living in food deserts.
The “New Normal” Weight
Although it may seem logical that putting healthy food options within reach would be enough to solve the obesity problem, the reality is far more complex. The higher number of overweight or obese Americans seems to have led to a different perception and, therefore, a different definition of “normal weight.” This new definition has resulted in an interesting phenomenon, where larger ambulances, bigger plane and train seats, and even more substantial operating tables are being manufactured in order to accommodate increased numbers of larger individuals.
The reason that it isn’t enough to simply provide healthy options may also lie in the fact that many Americans aren’t clear about the differences between diet and nutrition. The mixed messages that American consumers are receiving about what and how much to eat is a big part of the problem.
At one end are the processed foods and drive-thrus that many identify as the American way of life. At the other end, there are options aplenty for one wishing to lose weight, from weight loss programs and diet pills to liposuction and other types of weight loss surgery in Houston.
Finally, there is another new normal, which concerns our activity levels. As we spend more time in front of computers at work and at home, we are moving far less than we used to. Here, too, convenience seems to be king, as most Americans choose to drive or take some other form of public transit rather than walk or cycle to work.
Junk Food Taxes and Food Stamp Bans
It’s been suggested that implementing a tax on junk food may be a viable strategy to at least counter, if not completely stop, obesity in its tracks. This strategy has resulted in much enthusiasm as well as much debate. However, as revealed by trials in other countries, taxing unhealthy foods did not affect obesity rates. Instead, residents found ways to circumvent these taxes, such as purchasing their preferred food from other countries.
Is There Any Good News?
All of the above factors considered, losing weight can seem to be an impossible task. However, there is plenty of good news. Not only can you change what and how you eat, but you can also transition to a lifestyle that includes regular exercise for the maintenance of lifelong good health.
Many experience persistent obesity despite their efforts to achieve a healthier lifestyle. If this describes you, it’s important to know that there is a solution: gastric sleeve surgery. This procedure is offered by many weight loss clinics in Houston TX, and it can make a significant difference to your weight loss efforts. How? By reducing your appetite and stomach size.
How Gastric Sleeve Surgery Works
This safe and minimally invasive form of surgical weight loss reduces, via removal, the size of the stomach by an average of 75%. This limits the amount of food that can be eaten in a sitting, causing you to feel full after eating only a small amount. In limiting the size of the stomach, ghrelin the hunger hormone is also limited, which reduces appetite. Although your stomach is smaller after the creation of a gastric sleeve in Houston.
How Much Weight Can You Expect to Lose?
Gastric sleeve surgery can result in an average weight loss of between 2 and 4 lbs. per week, but results will vary and depend on several factors. For example, a very motivated individual may see a 70% reduction in weight or more. Although this procedure can be incredibly effective, surgery is just one part of the picture.
The Right Team Can Make All the Difference
In order to ensure long-term success, you must receive the right kind of professional support at all stages of the process. The right professional will offer counseling to determine your suitability for the procedure and they will tell you what you can expect after surgery. For example, you will need to follow a strict diet in the days following completion of the procedure. As well, even though you’re going to lose weight, you will need time to adjust.
Along with counseling about what to expect and how to navigate this life change, you’ll also benefit from education about healthy eating. This is also where finding the right team to guide you through the process can offer many benefits.
Bariatric Care Centers Can Help
Choosing to transform your life is exciting, but it can also be frightening. Bariatric Care Centers understand the challenges of weight loss. Out of this understanding, they have developed training programs and processes to provide compassionate, respectful, and dignified care to each and every patient. Learn more about how Bariatric Care Centers support you on each stage of your weight loss journey; call (713) 339-1353 today.
Disclaimer: This is only for general information. All patients should consult their doctors prior to following any of the recommendations in any articles, posts, or videos. All patients have individual needs and limitations that only their treating physicians can be aware of.