(BlackDoctor.org) — The newest research is in, and Americans are, on average, 20 pounds heavier than they were 20 years ago. And it also seems that our stated ideal weight is now heavier than it used to be. So, as Americans get fatter, we have also lowered the bar on what we would like to weigh, following the trend towards higher weights and an increase in illnesses related to weight. And if we do indeed weigh more, eat less healthy food, and suffer from more chronic diseases than ever before, is it any wonder that the cost of health care also continues to rise?
Diabetes and Weight
It’s very clear that abdominal fat and overall weight are indicative of the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, and abdominal fat is common among a large number of Americans.
According to some suggestions, a good way to determine if you are at risk of diabetes is to do the following:
- Take your height in inches, dividing that number in half
- If the size of your waist is more than that number, you are at risk of developing diabetes, among other complications of obesity
What Has Changed?
If you want to examine what has changed in the last 20 years, there are many places to look.
First, the number of Americans engaged in a sedentary lifestyle has risen as we have become more reliant on cars. Americans are known to drive very short distances in order to run an errand, even if the destination is essentially within reasonable walking distance. And as American neighborhoods and cities become less friendly to pedestrians and bicycles, it becomes less possible to safely run those errands without a car. And without safe places to walk or exercise, Americans thus become fatter.
Next, we have to look at food. Processed foods and fast foods have become increasingly popular, and the number of calories consumed by Americans—both young and old—has apparently risen as well. Unfortunately, processed foods generally contain more fat, more calories, and more sugar, thus the calories we consume are not only elevated in number, they are also deteriorating in terms of quality. Compared to several decades ago, different forms of sugar (such as high-fructose corn syrup) has found its way into a wide variety of foods, from salad dressings to crackers, soy milk and ketchup. Thus, many foods are packed with extra calories and sugars that offer no nutritional.
In many lower-income neighborhoods, there are often no outlets for purchasing healthy, fresh foods, with convenience stores and fast food restaurants being some of the only choices available to those without transportation or the ability to search out better options for food purchases. These areas devoid of quality options for the purchasing of nutrient-dense foods are often called “food deserts”, and they are more common than you might imagine.