Obesity and bad eating habits have been a public health problem for decades. Yet, the numbers don’t lie: People are not making the necessary changes. More than one-third – 34.9 percent or 78.6 million – of U.S. adults are obese, according to a study by the Journal of American Medicine.
There is no trend of decline in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the country, the authors of the research say. About 40 percent of the male participants were overweight and 35 percent were obese. As for women, 30 percent were overweight and 37 percent were obese.
“They face barriers to eating healthy such as making time to plan, using their money wisely, and having access to healthy foods,” Lainey Younkin, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian at Lainey Younkin Nutrition in Boston, says.
Nikki Ostrower from Nao Nutrition in New York puts some of the blame on processed foods. “They are addictive.” There is a lot of information out there which is very confusing. People get sick and tired but can’t figure out why until they got to the doctor, she adds, and their blood tests show borderline diabetes, high blood pressure, high risk of heart disease, to name a few.
There is also the emotional factor, along all others, that line up. “Many self-medicate with food, Maria A. Bella, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietician and founder of Top Balance Nutrition. “When we feel lonely, scared, defeated, food is a quick fix.” People generally do not perform destructive behaviors unless they serve a purpose and over-eating is no different, she adds.
Healthy eating is not about calorie count, deprivation, guilt or even will power. “Weight loss and maintenance is about understanding physiology and science and creating a life,” Bella says. That includes exercise routine and meal plans based on how the body works versus fighting biology and blaming ourselves for everything.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and so won’t your good habits, but you have to start from somewhere. Learning how to make healthy choices, Ostrower says, is the key.