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Combating America’s Obesity Epidemic: It Starts With You

The World Health Organization defines obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30. Similarly, having a BMI greater than or equal to 25 is considered overweight.

Sadly, Americans have struggled with obesity for years and it has become a serious problem across the country.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 70% of Americans are currently overweight or obese. Let’s say that again: more than 70% of Americans are overweight or obese.

That’s not good.

The U.S. holds an estimated 45% of the global pharmaceutical market, and there are all kinds of medications, supplements, and surgical options that could address some of these overweight and obesity issues, but it has to start with a healthier lifestyle. A person can have all kinds of weight-loss surgeries, be an expert in weight-loss pharmaceuticals, and have all the right supplements, but if they aren’t actively working on living a healthier lifestyle, their weight issues could come back in full effect.

According to MinnPost, the current food environment across the country is making it easier for the average American to lose control of their weight and become obese. There are a few policy changes that could at least get the general population on the right track when it comes to combating obesity, but transforming the food industry isn’t something that can occur over a year or two — it will likely take decades.

“The status of fruits and vegetables also needs to be lifted up, so that we can see these options in our foolscap instead of only billboards for greasy hamburgers and candy,” said Vox reporters Eliza Barclay, Julia Belluz, and Javier Zarracina. “Here, too, there’s movement. A number of celebrities and even Olympic athletes have been working with nonprofit organizations and grocery stores to appear in colorful advertisements peddling everything from apples to tomatoes.”

Because these macro changes will take decades to occur, again, the best way to combat obesity has to start at the individual level — with people actively changing their ways and living a healthier lifestyle. Here are some tips that you can begin implementing in your day-to-day life in order to reduce your chance of obesity and get down to a healthier, more comfortable weight:

  • Start by eating five to six servings of fruits and vegetables each day. A single vegetable serving is one cup of raw veggies or one-half cup of cooked veggies (or vegetable juice). Fruit servings can be as small as a single piece of small to medium fresh fruit, a half cup of canned or fresh fruit (or juice), or one-fourth cup of dried fruit.
  • Avoid highly processed foods and choose whole grain products instead. Highly processed foods are easy, affordable, and even delicious, but they are not good for you. They contain refined white sugar, flour, and saturated fat — all of which contribute to rapid weight gain. Whole grain foods such as whole wheat bread and brown rice are much healthier options that should help.
  • Start paying attention to portion size. Even if you start eating healthier, you have to make sure you’re not overeating. Though veggies are a much healthier option than, say, cake; 10 pounds of veggies weighs the same as 10 pounds of cake. Start weighing and measuring your food to gain a better understanding of portion size. Similarly, you should avoid super-sized items when eating out — especially at fast-food restaurants. On second thought, it might be better to avoid fast-food restaurants altogether. Sorry.

This isn’t going to be easy. But if you’re serious about changing your ways and want to start feeling better about your weight, it has to start with you. Good luck!

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