The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 36.5 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese. This is a far cry from the 1980s when the obesity rate hovered around 15 percent. Have you ever tried on a piece of clothing that your parents wore when they were your age? More often than not, you’ll find that it’s a bit of a snug fit. While the obesity epidemic can be linked to several different causes, actually getting to the root of the problem continues to be a struggle.
The food industry is widely considered to be the biggest culprit in the obesity epidemic. America’s fascination with fast food can be traced all the way back to the 1950s when TV dinners presented American families with the ability to prepare a full meal in minutes. The popularity of TV dinners skyrocketed in the late 60s and early 70s when family dynamics began to shift and more women were entering the workforce. Many families were simply too busy to eat home-cooked meals, and heating up a TV dinner was easier and less time-consuming than preparing a meal from scratch.
Today, TV dinners and other types of frozen meals continue to dominate a portion of every grocery store and remain popular go-to meals for many Americans. Unfortunately, this fixation with fast food is a huge contributing factor in our country’s obesity epidemic. Every day, approximately 50 million Americans visit fast food restaurants. What’s even more troubling is that a whopping 34 percent of children consume fast food every day. One way many fast food giants like McDonald’s and Burger King keep kids hooked on their food is by promising toys in each of their junior meals. Many of these fast food chains promote the idea that kids can “collect them all”, and even parents who don’t typically allow their children to eat at these restaurants find themselves sitting in the drive-thru several times per week just to score the latest collectable toy.
Last year, it was reported that America’s obesity rate had reached a record high, and while we have started making progress towards lowering these numbers, we still have a long way to go. Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle has proven to be especially difficult for adults who work full-time, and don’t have much time to exercise during a busy work week. Because of this, many employers have started offering corporate wellness programs in an effort to promote healthy living and inspire employees to think about their health. Many of these programs involve free group fitness classes, healthy meals, and general health care benefits. As for the childhood obesity issue, some schools have started providing healthier lunch alternatives that include less processed foods and more fruits and vegetables. Parents can also help lower the childhood obesity epidemic by packing healthy lunches for their children to take to school, as well as preparing healthy meals at home.
While there is no denying that America’s obesity rate has gotten out of control, it’s never too late to start making positive changes and help lower the numbers. Staying active and making healthier food choices can make a world of difference in fighting this epidemic.