Currently, two out of three Americans are overweight or obese. St. Charles has an obesity rate of 28%. Many theories exist about what’s causing the epidemic of obesity in the United States, but we’re here to sort through what’s fact and what’s fiction.
Myth #1: Most obese Americans have less education and lower social status.
The facts: Americans of all education and income levels are gaining weight. It’s true that obesity is more prevalent in American populations with less education, but Americans across the socioeconomic scale have been consistently gaining weight for almost 40 years.
Myth #2: Blacks and Hispanics are gaining weight faster than other racial groups.
The facts: It’s true that a higher percentage of African Americans and Hispanic Americans may qualify as obese. But similarly to the myth relating to socioeconomic status, the rate of obesity is rising across all racial groups.
Myth #3: Only southern states like Mississippi have an obesity problem.
The facts: All of the states have been getting fatter. As of 2016, West Virginia has the highest percentage of obesity at 37.7%, with Mississippi coming in a close second at 37.3%. Colorado has the lowest obesity rate at 22.3%. Missouri sits around the 17th most obese state in the US at 31.7%.
Myth #4: Americans don’t exercise as much because they work more hours and have less free time.
The facts: Americans actually have more leisure time than in past decades and the number of paid work hours has decreased. However, while Americans are now self-reporting more exercise than in the past, most Americans are not meeting recommendations for physical activity.
Myth #5: Obesity is caused by “food desert”– areas with a shortage of healthy foods either due to lack of access or lack of affordability.
The facts: According to data over the past 50 years, American consumption of fruits and vegetables has increased. However, Americans have not decreased their consumption of unhealthy foods. All foods– both healthy and unhealthy –are more affordable and available than ever.
No single demographic in the US is slowing the rising rate of obesity. Americans in all states of all socioeconomic backgrounds and racial groups are at risk. Yes, some groups are heavier than others, but the data shows that the obesity rates across the board are rising. St. Charles is relatively healthy compared to other communities in the US, but it’s also not immune from increased obesity rates.
The best thing we can do to fight these rising obesity rates?
- Eat more fruits and vegetables from our local farmer’s market
- Cut out more unhealthy foods– avoid fast food and processed foods
- Cook together with friends and family– experiment with new recipes
- Exercise together– take walks with co-workers, play with your children outside
The majority of American adults eat more than the recommended calorie intake each day. Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is an important step, but obesity cannot be addressed unless we cut out the sugary, fatty, processed foods of which we’re so accustomed.
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