“The Obesity Epidemic- Why Are We Faced With It?” by Maria Khaled RD, LD

The Obesity Epidemic Post

As many know, obesity affects an estimated 160 million Americans. Statistics show that nearly ¾ of American men and more than 60% of women are obese or overweight. There are also major challenges for America’s children- nearly 30% of boys and girls under age 20 are either obese or overweight- up from 19% in 1980. Why is this happening? Can we break the cycle?

Aside from my genuine love of food, nutrition and wellness, which is why I studied nutrition to begin with, America’s culture is on it’s way to facing an obesity epidemic. Well, there are varying reasons and I would like to explore some of them. First, sometimes being overweight or obese can be attributed to a combination of factors such as genes, as well as medical conditions such as hypometabolism.- which is a condition marked by an abnormally low metabolic rate and makes it harder to lose weight. Aside from genetics and certain biological conditions, why are we seeing obesity at such an alarming rate?

First, we are living in a society where we are obsessed with food. Everywhere we go, we are bombarded by fast food signs, ads and commercials glorifying food, many with little nutritional benefit and high in calories- adding to our nation’s waistlines. There are far fewer fresh fruits and vegetables readily available as processed or fast foods on many major streets. Also, supersizing drinks and foods with incentives to save money does not help either.

In addition, restaurants are serving gigantic portion sizes, many double or triple the size of what actual portions should look like. As consumers, many times we think we should finish the entire meal because lets face it- this is what we have been taught to do while growing up- “finish your food.” We don’t want to waste food right? We may think that restaurant serving sizes are the “norm” and just force ourselves to try and finish everything on our plate- going against our internal hunger cues. Sadly, most restaurant portions are much bigger than a normal serving size and this is where extra calories creep up on us and are consumed. This unfortunately, can become a vicious cycle.

Some tips to help combat this epidemic:

1)     Focus on finding your internal hunger cues. Am I really hungry or is this ad just making me think about food? If the ad or commercial was not in front of me, would I still want to eat?

2)      When at a restaurant, if a portion size is too big, go ahead and wrap ¼ to 1/2 of it to bring home. This will not only allow you to get use to what an actual portion size should look like, but also save you from the unwanted calories it can add to your waistline.

3)     Try to incorporate walking or any physical activity (that is medically approved) daily to help shed any unwanted calories. Remember, if you are consuming too many calories and not burning them up, you will gain those extra unwanted pounds.

4)     Choose from high protein sources such as milk, egg, lean meats, and fish, as well as incorporating fruits and vegetables regularly. Also, focus more on complex carbohydrates:

-whole whole wheat breads, pastas, and flour

-Brown and wild rices

- Barley




-Legumes, such as black beans, chickpeas, lentils and others.

5)     Respect food and what we put in our mouths. Food should be used to fuel the body and is a necessary factor for survival. We should not live to eat, but eat to live- enjoying our favorite foods in moderation!

Once we understand this, we will look at food in a whole new light and get away from being completely consumed by it. Those once calorie-dense foods can be eaten much less and we can focus on consuming a balanced, nutritious diet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *