Obesity is currently the leading cause of preventable death in America. It's also linked to diet-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
The US has not made obesity a priority and the results of the neglect are devastating for the health of millions of Americans.
What Are Diet Related Diseases?
Diet related diseases include the three mentioned above; heart disease, cancer, diabetes, along with dementia, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, stroke, osteoarthritis and there are more. All of these can be prevented or possibly delayed by improving weight and getting on a healthier physical path.
Obesity Rates Are On The Rise
Since the pandemic, obesity is a topic that has come up in the news and in the data reported. The more body fat, the higher the risk of diet related diseases and Covid-19. Just ask Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK.
The Prime Minister was admitted to intensive care for Covid-19 and that same week two studies came out identifying obesity as a significant risk factor for serious illness and death. After he recovered, he said; “When I went into ICU, when I was really ill ... I was way overweight,”
During that summer, Johnson, launched a new government wide obesity strategy. He mandated a complete ban on junk food advertising on TV before 9 p.m. Restaurants had to put calorie numbers on their menus, and healthier products had to be stocked near checkout lines. Johnson then started jogging daily and became a spokesperson for healthier habits.
What Is The US Doing About Obesity?
More than 42% of adults in the US (about 100 million people) were obese before the pandemic. Almost three-fourths of adults in the US are overweight. One in five children now have obesity!
Think of the costs associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers and all the other diseases that could be prevented. If the US does not address this it will continue to impact us fiscally and effect the productivity of our country.
The US has become a nation of obesity; overweight, overeating, empty calorie country. There is no willpower from our government to fix this. Covid did not set us on a better path. It did for the Prime Minister of the UK, but as of yet, we have seen no alarms set off and no dire warnings from our US officials. Americans are solely focused on vaccines. We are not focusing on underlying conditions and what could be done to prevent disease.
Why Do Diet-Related Diseases Pose A Risk For Covid-19?
It's not just about being fat. Let’s face it, diet related diseases have common factors such as smoking, lack of exercise and yes, obesity.
Nearly two-thirds of hospitalizations during the pandemic were related to obesity and the other diseases. One study showed that if you had a body mass index of 45 or over, meaning you were severely obese, you had a 60% chance that you were more likely to die from the virus.
With the lockdown, many became less active, ate more, slept less and were stressed out. Sounds like people you know? (not you, of course)
What Can Be Done About Obesity Rates?
Everyone reacts with - I have to go on a DIET. Well, almost 50 million people go on a diet each year and we certainly are not seeing results based on the numbers. Yes, we need to change our eating habits. We also need to change our attitude. There has to be a desire to get healthy.
Other countries like Mexico started banning junk food sales to children along with sugary drinks and fast food. Globally, other countries are addressing the problem as well. So do we really want to go into a Dairy Queen and order a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard and be told, NOPE! Your body mass index is over 45 so we cannot serve this to you today. Those extremes may not go over well, but at the same time we were not scared into action by the pandemic.
Maybe we should heed Boris Johnson's words when he said, "My friends, I was too fat". And he led by example and outlined his vision for a healthier Britain with more biking and walking.
Ask yourselves these questions. Does the US population want to keep spending $380 billion per year on treating cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes? Does anyone want a higher risk for getting COVID? The US needs to wake up, get on the scale, and take personal action.