Promoting A Healthier America
Education of Healthy Habits in Primary Schools
According to a Gallup-Healthways report, the Adult Obesity rate is 27.2%. This is the highest percentage it has been in history with only indication that it will be increasing in the upcoming years. Many people turn to diet pills, smaller portions, and miles of cardio but let’s face it: When you are out of shape, it’s very hard to get back into shape. This leaves many people in society with little hope and motivation to push forward. But instead of trying to fix the problem that has already started, I think we should focus on making sure it doesn’t become a problem to begin with. We can do this by dedicating more time and effort on educating children in healthy habits during primary schools.
By approaching this issue at the root we can hopefully solve the problem before it starts. Society is constantly pounding children from all sides by advertising unhealthy habits and indoctrinating children to ditch any aspect of healthy living at the earliest age possible. There’s a lot more commercials about greasy Big Mac’s than there are about salads and is there any better place to eat your Big Mac than sitting in front of your flat screen TV for a few hours? This is the message that I and all my peers are given every single day and to some it might be the only thing they know. It’s no wonder why America has one of the highest average BMI’s of any country in the world. This is why we must inform our society early on healthy alternatives. With increases in education in a P.E. program and heath classes we can have our youth informed on eating healthy foods, giving them the daily opportunity to exercise and providing alternatives to the apathetic lifestyle that our society lives in. With our schools continually cutting funding for programs such as these we can expect to foster a generation that might not even know how to stay healthy even if they wanted to.
A clip of a California high school’s P.E. program from the 1960’s shows just how effective more attention on fitness can be. There is not an overweight man to be found in this video. This school understood “that if America was physically healthy, they would be mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and patriotically healthy.” Their emphasis on physical fitness is a landmark that we can strive towards in developing our own program in schools. There are many programs that aim to give children a head start in healthy living like the Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” and the NFL’s “Play 60” programs. These give children an avenue to exercise and get an active routine in their life. While this does great work to encourage, it all boils down to the decision the kids make for themselves and education on a basic level will do more to give them a choice in the matter. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” So let’s educate and build a heathier society!
Move it Move it
Physical activity is something we as American’s have put on the backburner. With our careers, education, social life, and hobbies we try to cram so much into our lives that we don’t often think about our bodies and how we need to take care of them. Besides a healthy diet, we must also remember that our bodies function best when they are active. When we maintain an active lifestyle not only do our bodies look better, we feel better, we sleep better, and we push off infections and other health problems easier. Our bodies were built to maintain a mobile lifestyle; we can see this in our body’s structure, such as our joints and the improved blood circulation when our extremities move. In fact, our bodies actually develop harmful symptoms when we sit for too long. When we sit, our spines are pulled down in a harmful curve stretching muscles in an unnatural manner. Our siting posture also compresses our lungs, decreasing the volume of oxygen we can intake. Sitting for prolonged periods even inhibits our body’s veins from eliminating fat from our blood. So why do we sit all day when there are such negative effects? Unfortunately it is due to our lifestyle of work behind a desk, and coming home to a television screen because we have had a long day. Today in America thirty-two percent of adults are obese, and less than five percent of American’s are active in their daily routines for more than thirty minutes a day. One in three of our children are active every day and on average, our children spend seven and a half hours every day in front of a TV, computer, or other screen. So how do we get away from this sedentary lifestyle, improve our health, our energy, and our sleep cycles? It all comes down to a decision. A decision to incorporate 150 minutes of exercise into our lives each week. Only thirty minutes a day of moderate activity and two sessions of strength training and we can move on to a healthier America. But “my life is so busy, I can’t incorporate a time to exercise with everything else going on”, is something a lot of us tell ourselves. However, there are many ways we can include activity in our lives. For example, a short trip to the corner store for milk can be done on a bicycle instead of your car, deciding to take the stairs up to your office, instead of the elevator. Walking around the neighborhood with your dog or child when you get home from work, of even taking business calls standing up and walking through the office. Adding activity to your life doesn’t have to include heavy weights or intense five mile runs, but what it does require is the active decision to better yourself and make the time or take the opportunity to get out of your office chair, to leave the coach behind, and step out the door to a better lifestyle.
Obesity and Medications
According to the CDC, More than one third of the adult population of the US is obese(Adult). Obesity can cause ailments ranging from heart disease to certain types of cancer(Adult). And due to these ailments, medical costs of the U.S. population is increased by about 100 billion dollars per year, much of this being paid for by you and fellow tax payers through Medicaid and Medicare(Rodgers). With such serious problems stemming from obesity it is important that it is controlled, and soon, as the population with obesity is predicted to increase in the near future. As you just read, diet and exercise are the two main ways to control weight gain and weight loss. But a third tool is the use of medicine and supplements. Unfortunately, many of these medicines have bad side effects, and many natural supplements do not have to go through clinical trials and FDA approval(Wong). Because of their classification as a food supplement, these weight loss substances are regulated like a normal food product. This means that it is considered to be safe until otherwise deemed hazardous to public health. And, while they cannot make claims such as make claims such as developed for weight loss and many are still on the market today, but the extent of risks associated are not always known immediately. Many medicines that are now illegal were on the market for decades before being retracted due to extreme adverse effects or even death. And while supplements are not required to go through clinical trials many have known side effects. To keep from doing more harm than good, a person needs to know what the pros and cons are for each different supplement and medicine. In order to accomplish this I propose that a media campaign be organized to make the public more aware of these benefits and risks. This campaign would include TV and social media ads, and a new website to give the public more information on the available treatments and their effects and encourage people to talk to their doctor. The TV ads would be modeled on the success of the recent anti-smoking ad campaigns.
As you can see by the advertisement, the use of an actual person with a life story combined
with the graphic nature of their situation, the ad creates a powerful message that people
remember and are motivated to act on. According to Thomas Friedman who is the director of the CDC, the ads were so powerful that they were more successful than their original
estimates(Koch). I want to accomplish a same level of public exposure through these types of ads and encourage the public to talk with their primary physician before starting any new weight loss supplements or medicines. By doing this we can help to lower the number of obese in the US in a safe and healthy manner.
Eating disorders affect 24 million people all over the United States.
While Obesity and a steadily increasing average American BMI affect a large majority of the population, the opposite problem affects an almost equally large number of people and its effects result in thousands of fatalities every year. Eating disorders are not limited to certain age groups, races, or even genders, as contrary to popular belief, men make up 10-15% of the victims. Here I am going to discuss the symptoms and effects of the specific eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia, and ways you can prevent and raise awareness of these two potentially fatal mental diseases. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia, are the two most common eating disorders globally and each one comes with its own dangers, symptoms, and consequential health effects.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anorexia nervosa symptoms include: extremely low body weight, severe food restriction, relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight, intense fear of gaining weight, distorted body image and self-esteem (that is heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight and shape, or a denial of the seriousness of low body weight), and lack of menstruation among girls and women. People with anorexia nervosa have an incorrect mental view of themselves which they can not control and see themselves as much more overweight than they actually are; therefore, they react to this “gross” body image by starving themselves. Based on the severity of the case, this process can potentially result in consequences such as bone thinning (osteopenia or osteoporosis), brittle hair and nails, dry and yellowish skin, growth of fine hair all over the body (lanugo), mild anemia, muscle wasting, and weakness, severe constipation, low blood pressure, damage to the structure and function of the heart, brain damage, lethargy, sluggishness, or feeling tired all the time, infertility, and eventually multi-organ failure.
Similar to anorexia, people with bulimia suffer a similar dissatisfaction with their body image, and respond to this by binge-eating and then throwing up their food. Bulemics differ from those with anorexia in the sense that most people with bulimia maintain a somewhat normal weight or can even be overweight. The National Institute of Mental Health reports the symptoms of bulimia as: chronically inflamed and sore throat, swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area, worn tooth enamel (and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acid), acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems, intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse, severe dehydration from purging of fluids, and electrolyte imbalance. If you or a friend seems to exhibit one or multiple of these symptoms, you are encouraged to seek medical and psychiatric help immediately.
Though these mental diseases seem hopeless and unavoidable, many organizations provide education and support for those affected by and those who have the potential to be affected by eating disorders of all types.
One organization, the National Eating Disorders Association, offers multiple online resources such as statistics, counseling and testimonies for those who suffer with these diseases. The association also promotes one week every year in February called “National Eating Disorders Awareness Week” where they provide their partners with informed motivational speakers, online events, and multiple other educational and motivational resources for any and everyone in support of the fight against eating disorders all over the world.I encourage anyone reading this to learn more about eating disorders, continually promote awareness about its potentially fatal dangers, and provide encouragement for those who struggle with this highly common mental disease.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
Sunday, Feb. 22nd, 12am to Saturday, Feb. 28th, 11:45pm
This is an online event.
The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness Week) is to put the spotlight on the seriousness of eating disorders and to improve public understanding of their causes, triggers and treatments. By increasing awareness and access to resources, we can encourage early detection and intervention, which can improve the likelihood of full recovery for millions.
The Struggle of Eating Healthy
There are many problems with trying to eat healthy in today's world even for someone who is actually trying to eat healthy. Many food products that claim to be healthy actually are not. Many products make false claims or partially true claims that lead us to think they are healthy. Take bread for example. Most people when they are trying to eat healthy start eating whole wheat and whole grain bread. Well just because it says it is whole wheat doesn't meant it actually is. If you take the time to look at the ingredients lists you will notice that in most cases the whole wheat ingredient is one of the last things listed, that is because the lower on an ingredient lists something is the less of it there is in the product. That means these whole wheat breads are usually only about 10% while the rest is artificial flavors, regular enriched flour and other stuff that can be bad for you. This is not the only the only product that is this way either. Milk, yogurts, fruit juices, protein bars and many “healthy” products are actually the same or worse than their “unhealthy” counterparts. Just because one part of a product may be healthy while the rest is complete garbage, this allows companies to claim that there product is healthy. Take the case with milk, while most would assume that 1% and 2% milk would be healthier extensive research done by the national institute of health shows that these healthier milks may be linked with weight gain rather weight loss while more research needs to be done to prove if it is worse than whole milk, they have proven that there are almost no correlations that prove “low-fat” milks are healthier that just whole milk.
Now this may be kind of scary and you may thinking “well if i can’t trusts what's on the label how do i know what's healthy?” Well you may not be able to trust the labels but you can trust yourself. Do a little research and learn what healthy eating really is (there is an amazin in debth guide at helpguide.org embed below) and then when you go shopping look at the nutrition labels and ingredient and see for yourself if it is really healthy. Learn what all those weird ingredients names actually are because ,as you will see, most of them are stuff you actually know just givin a different name to hide the fact that it is in the product. A couple of tips i've found through my research is to try and avoid products with extremely long lists of ingredients. Another great tip is too make sure you check the serving sizes when your eating and to try to eat small meals throughout the day instead three big meals. This usually means the product has tons of artificial sweeteners and ingredients which are unwanted in a healthy diet. you can also look at Harvard's’ Healthy eating plate for a great example of a well rounded healthy diet.
Eating healthy colorful fruit is a great way to help stay healthy!
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