If you double the population of the united states you get the number of people who are obese at 600 million people. If you times the population of the US by 6 then you will see all the overweight people in the world at 1.9 Billion people.
The world’s population currently stands at 7.4 billion. Thirty five percent (6x the population of the united states) are overweight or obese. I have very recently come to the conclusion that this cannot be completely blamed on this discipline of the 2.5 million overweight/obese people but the environment that our cultures and industries have created. Even worse than this is that our children are inheriting this ENVIRONMENT with the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes (caused almost exclusively by diet, inactivity, and obesity) expected to rise by 36.5% in the United States, 75.5% in China, and 134% in India in the next 25 years being (1).
We have created an environment where a third of the world’s population are destined to fail. It is hard to blame the individual when they have to fight against some of the most powerful corporation marketing strategies, cultural habits and modern work lifestyles. The main contributors to our the obesity epidemic can be defined as follows,
More and more individuals are eating out and not cooking – portions several multiples larger than only a few decades ago, and vast amounts of eating occurring outside the home; restaurant revenues in the United States grew from $43 billion in 1970 to $558 billion today (2).
Individuals are not aware of how many calories are in foods they are consuming. A study of 100 million transactions at Starbucks, found a 6% (around 100 calories) decrease in calories per purchase in New York City after the calorie posting regulation went into effect. People made healthier, lower calories choices and no loss of revenue was recorded. (3) You may think what will a can of soda (150 calories) or an extra 150 calorie subway really do. Well lets do the maths.
Imagine we have twins Tommy and Jack. Both weigh 50kg and have an expenditure of 2000 kcal a day and intake an equal 2000 kcal from good food sources. The only difference is Jack drinks a can of soda a day which is 150 kcal.
150kcal x 365 days in a year = 54,750 kcal
54,750 kcal= 6000g of fat = 6kg of fat or 13 pounds of fat
Tommy is still 50kg but now Jack is 56kg with 6kg more visceral fat than his twin Tommy.
We are overexposed to marketing of energy dense food which particularly targets children. The average child in the United States for instance, views 15 television food advertisements every day, or nearly 5500 messages per year (4). 98% of these adverts are focused on energy dense unhealthy foods. Fast food and takeaway was the most advertised food category, followed by chocolate and confectionery items. In an Australian study, a total 194 breaches of the Children’s Television Standards were identified according to our interpretation of the standards. The first boom of increase in US citizen’s BMI has been linked to the same time as the introduction to the start of radio and television advertisements. Child marketing makes clear that it is exciting, fun, and cool to eat great-tasting, high-calorie food almost any time or anywhere, and there are no negative consequences for doing so. The fact is food promotion has a causal and direct effect on children’s food preferences and behavior. A dramatic comparison would be to compare the 2 adverts below. The first an old Flintstones adverts and the second a current chocolate advert.
Old cigarette advert with Flintstones – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAExoSozc2c
Chocolate advert promoting immediate effects – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNRSHr3b4uA
2 years later all the aliens would be obese and have type 2 diabetes. The CDC doesn’t list obesity as a cause of death. Instead, it lists heart disease as the No. 1 cause, killing nearly 598,000 people a year, while cancer kills 575,000. Obesity also being the second biggest cause of cancer behind smoking. I ask every parent to change there perception of the impact of these energy dense foods and governments to wake-up. Start to put further sanctions on the direct marketing towards our children.
Our society influences such as actors and sports stars as role models. They can often can be associated with some form of energy dense drink or food which they themselves would not consume. Hypercritical brand image of health, energy, smiles and high performances but in reality the result of ingesting high dense foods consistently is fluctuating moods and energy, poor insulin sensitivity, a high risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer.
Major sports events promoting health are often sponsored by energy dense drink or foods.
Unhealthy food is often cheaper than healthy options. In hungry, the country has implemented a tax on unhealthy foods and shown the consumed quantities of processed food to decrease by 3.4% due to the unhealthy food tax. Conversely, the consumed quantities of unprocessed food increased by 1.1%.
Low activity and movement levels. Only 42% of children ages 6-11 yr obtain the recommended 60 minutes a day, and even worse is that only 8% of adolescents achieve this goal. Among adults, adherence to the recommendation to obtain 30 min’d-1 of physical activity is less than 5%. The adverse effects of inactivity are as significant as the positive effects of activity. Even an obese individual severely reduces their risk of modern health diseases by performing light activity.
Access. Subjects who reported engaging in three or more exercise sessions per week reported a statistically greater density of pay facilities near their homes than did those who reported no exercise sessions. The finding suggests an association between proximity of exercise facilities and frequency of exercise. Public parks are a critical resources for physical activity in minority communities. Because residential proximity is strongly associated with physical activity and park use, the number and location of parks are currently insufficient to serve local populations well in many of our modern cities.
Support systems. On average, students received 23.9 contact hours of nutrition instruction during medical school. This day of education could even be surpassed by the contact hours of behaviour change (If anyone has any statistics or information on this then please email email@example.com)
What should governing bodies do change this environment….
- Restrictions on the advertisement of energy dense foods.
- Ensure all restaurants correctly label food information
- Sports Governing bodies and professional athletes not to be partnered with any unhealthy, energy dense foods and drinks.
- Provide more access to facilities and parks to promote movement.
- Increase percentage of healthy restaurant and food options. Decrease cost of healthy food, tax unhealthy food.
What can we do to change this environment….
- Ensure we move a minimum of x 5 per week.
- Better educate yourself on nutrition and what is unhealthy and healthy.
- Reduce our public television intake. Pay for subscription based television with no adverts – Netflix and Amazon Prime.
- Try to walk part of the way to work or school everyday
- Read the labels of all products bought or on menus. Know what you are putting in your body.
- Cook more, eat out less.
- Try to expose yourself to healthy environments where people take healthy over unhealthy choices easily.
- Get a more active job.
- Find a balance…. between movement and computer work, cooking at home and eating out, walking to work and getting the train. We have to actively do things that previous generations did in their daily work or activities.