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Moving Beyond the Numbers

Posted on 05/17/2012

Last week I mentioned how new estimates for obesity in the year 2030 will effect 42 percent of Americans, and 11 percent will be severely obese (which means more than 100 pounds overweight). That does not count those who are expected to be overweight.  There's more to these numbers than what meets the eye...much, much more. 

It does not speak to the dangers of carrying extra belly weight that increases risk of sudden cardiac death, according to a new study by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

The World Health Organization (WHO) came out this week and warned of high blood pressure, diabetes (type II) and obesity. With half a billion people -- or, 12 percent of the world's population -- are considered obese, according to WHO. Obesity puts people at greater risk for type II diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

What do we do to slow it down? Do we need the much touted "20 percent fat tax" for unhealthy food to help improve the health of the nation? Researchers in the British Medical Journal suggest it is a necessary evil to help reverse the pandemic of obesity and chronic diseases.

Some argue, and I am almost nearly always in agreement, that more government is not better government. But this is an exception. This is a public health issue that is impacting all aspects of our lives. It is impairing our future generations. It will cripple us financially for years to come. What we are currently doing (i.e., nothing) is not working. We continue to spend billions each year on healthcare for diseases associated with obesity. Something more has to be done.  Obesity is the main culprit for the majority of chronic diseases and a leading cause of death in our country. Our problem is now becoming the world's problem. Will taxing help? I think so, but remember, if you don't want to be taxed, then dont buy the junk!

Eating healthy foods is not more expensive, in fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers just released a report yesterday saying the opposite. If you measure by portion size and weight rather than by calories. For the full report, go to the USDA's web site and search for the report titled, "Are Healthy Foods Really More Expensive? It Depends on How You Measure the Price."

Another option in the fight against obesity is through schools. School is where children spend up to half or more of their waking hours. The Institute of Medicine recently reported that schools should be the cornerstone of the nation's obesity battle, but not the sole focus. They state that each of us has a role in the battle against obesity, not just the schools and government. Rather we all have a role and it should be a concerted effort amongst us all.

We are in dire need, with 108 million people in the U.S. on diets, with most trying 4 to 5 each year. The $20 billion weight loss industry consists of many fads, pills, powders and surgeries. Behavioral modification works. Learning new patterns, understanding portion and calorie control works. If you consume more than you burn, then you will gain. There's no easy, quick fix. If you gained 50 pounds in a few years time, it will take time and effort to lose it. The first step can and is often the hardest, but it is essential to changing behaviors.

If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. I am confident that we here at Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating are all part of the solution. We are trying to help change eating habits one person and one portion at a time. We realize we cannot help everyone out there, but for those who are receptive to change and want to embrace relearning what they think they know about eating, we're here to help. 

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Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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