The other day I was thinking about the biggest cause of life expectancy in the USA being lower than many industrialized nations. In school we hear about the effects of tobacco and alcohol have on our lives, but is there a hidden danger that is causing us to live shorter lives?
Currently 15.5% of American’s smoke (over 18) or roughly 35 million. This is down over 5% from 2005. Smoking is linked to early death because of cancers, heart disease, stroke, and other health conditions. Smoking is linked to 1/5 deaths in the United States.
Obesity is an epidemic in the United States that has grown drastically in the last few decades. It is estimated that 160 million Americans are overweight or obese. There are 78 million (35% of adults) Americans who are obese, more than any other country in the world. BMI (Body Mass Indexes) of 30 or above is considered obese. Obesity is linked to early death because of cancers, diabetes, high blood pressures, and other health conditions.
In 2014 a study was conducted by looking at data from Sweden, Australia, and the United States of the obese who do not smoke and how it effected their lifespan compared to national averages. The study showed that the obese live between 6.5-13.7 years less than their normal body weight counterparts. This compares to 8.9 less years for those who smoke and are normal weight.
What Causes our Prevalence of Obesity
It’s because we are not as active… right? It is true that Americans are less active than previous generations, however the spike in obesity is more commonly linked to nutrition. Over the last 40 years, serving sizes from restaurants have grown, not only for adults, but for children. We are finding less time to cook wholesome meals at home, and rely on fast food as a convenience.
Compared to 1970, Americans are eating nearly 400 more calories per day. We are getting those calories from more sugar, vegetable oils, and grains, and less from quality protein and vegetables. Sugar and non-whole grain carbohydrates are causing spikes in Type II Diabetes, the form of diabetes where insulin stops working the way it should. Vegetable fats found in oils cause inflammation that attacks your cardiovascular system.
Being less active only compounds the above issues.
What Can We Do About It?
We have to change our diets and our behaviors. One of the greatest tools I’ve learned is to meal prep. Meal Prepping eliminates the need for fast food. I make sure that I have lunches for the week and easy dinners (crock pots are a savior). This also helps me save money. These meal prepped items will include lean cuts of protein (chicken, pork, steak, fish), veggies, and a whole grain.
We must educate ourselves and our youth. It’s a shame we took all those years of Health class in school and still don’t know what a macronutrient is. Nor did we learn how to create a diet. It’s a shame. We need to teach people the benefits of proper nutrition so that we are a proactive nation (preventing disease) vs. reactive (treating disease).
Some supplements can help. We don’t get enough veggies or Omega 3 fatty acids in our diets. Both are phenomenal for reducing inflammation, increasing gut health, and protecting our bodies. I suggest Full Mega and Opti-Greens 50 from 1st Phorm. Full Mega is the highest quality fish oil on the market. Fish oil helps reduce inflammation for your cardiovascular system, but also is great for joint pain. Opti-Greens 50 is 11 servings of veggies, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.
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NASM Weight Loss Specialist and Personal Trainer
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Note: I am not a doctor. Please talk to a doctor before starting any exercise or diet program.