(Exercising Your Mind) Unhealthy lifestyles that lead to heart disease, diabetes and other health implications can be likened to an epidemic in the United States. With two-thirds of the population over-weight, drastic measures must be undertaken to reverse this health crisis.
Obesity is claiming lives near the alarming rate of tobacco smoking, and it is the mind-set of these people that contributes to their degeneration. This attitude leads to behaviours that can be classified into groups such as sedentarianism (little or no activity), overeating and indifferent choices.
First, sedentarianism is a product of distraction and priority where watching television and playing video games etc. takes precedence over more vital activities. More than other population categories, overweight people can be found wasting disproportionate amounts of time watching sitcoms and news programs.
In fact, many reports and anecdotal evidence shows convincing correlations between hours spent channel surfing and excess weight. The census on video-games can be seen to have similar correlates according to related studies.
There has also been experimental data revealing similar addiction mechanisms at play linking food substances such as high fructose corn syrup, t.v. and computer gaming. It is not surprising however, that many people have not subjectively made this link and taken action to improve their well-being.
Second, overeating or “binging” largely contributes to excess weight and when combined with a sedentary lifestyle, causes obesity. As previously mentioned, there are addictive substances in foods adding to these health problems as well as self-esteem and psychological components such as anxiety and depression.
Many studies have indicated that high fructose corn syrup found in almost all foods is not readily eliminated by the body and wreaks havoc on the neurotransmitter leptin and the hormone ghrelin which assist in appetite regulation.
Self-esteem plays a major role in how one selects food. For example, many people with diminished self-worth turn to what are known as “comfort foods” at times when lonlieness and depression set in.
However, comfort is short-lived when depression rears its ugly head. Depression is classified as “clinical” when it lasts for more than six weeks without substantial relief. Unfortuneately, depression is exaggerated and perpetuated by many of the food choices that are linked to obesity.
Third and most important is the indifferent behaviour exhibited by those who succumb or continue to struggle with body-weight. These are things such as not reading food labels, not utilizing the information or the seemingly impossible task of doing so when addiction takes hold. Not reading labels appears to be a habit created from misinformation. If one were to read these at the outset, and then gain some understanding of the effects of many of these ingredients, many lives would be spared the slow agonizing deaths experienced by those suffering from the resulting diseases.
Yet reading and understanding are not in themselves an answer to the issue. Not using the information is just as problematic as not knowing, and there may be several reasons for this. To some, it seems impossible to adhere to basic health precautions because it appears too time consuming, which relates to priorities.
But the most devastating reason is addiction. A person has a great desire to change bad habits but is subconsciously driven by an urge to continue the destructive path. So many of the components of “food” nowadyas are highly addictive. Today, upwards of seventy-five percent of the average, non-organic foods are processed with habit forming additives. This number was only twenty percent processed-food in 1940.
Finally, it could be imagined that there is hope for those lost in suffering. Should people be more active, eat more sparingly and exercise better judgement, less of the disease producing agents would be killing our country. Physical activity can be increased, gluttany can be stopped, and addiction thwarted.
*American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 76, No. 5, 911-922, November 2002
© 2002 American Society for Clinical Nutrition
American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 88, Issue 2 277-280, 1998
Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistsnce syndrome
Sharon S Elliot, Nancy L Keim, Judith S Stern, Karen Teff and Peter J Havel
From the Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis (SSE,JSS and PJH); the US Department of Agriculture Western Human Nutrition Research Center, Davis, CA (NLK); and the Monell Chemical Senses Institute and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (KT)
Epidemic obesity in the United States: are fast foods and television viewing contributing?
R W Jeffery and S A French
Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55454-1015, USA