Just think about how many times over the last couple of years you have seen a news report about the dangers of obesity. Most everyone knows by now that being seriously overweight jeopardizes your health. It has been linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a long list of other ailments.
If your overweight, don't be surprised if your back hurts, or your knees...or both, and don't be surprised if you don't sleep well.
Then there's the financial element of being overweight. The health problems associated with obesity are expensive, what with the medications and doctor visits. Also, all that food is expensive!
Some people mistakenly believe it's expensive to eat healthy. But the truth is, all that snack food and all that sheer excess volume of food an overweight person consumes not only adds up to additional calories and fat, but also additional dollars wasted.
So with all this widely dispersed information about the perils of overeating, new numbers out this week show our nation is now shockingly fat! And we got here in a hurry.
Twenty-three states now report that at least one-fourth of their population is obese. Mississippi is the highest at 32 percent obese. Compare that to just 20 years ago when no state, not even one, had an obesity rate of more than 15 percent.
Experts say there are a number of reasons why our country is ballooning. But basically they all fall under the umbrella of lifestyle. Fattening, and yes, delicious, food is everywhere. And we eat larger quantities. That's a recipe for disaster.
To give you an idea of how abundant food is, think about every single place of business. There's fattening food at the check-out area, isn't there? It didn't used to be that way. I remember when gas stations used to just sell gas.
There were no vending machines in my junior high school. There was only one, yes only one, fast food restaurant near my house: McDonald's, and there weren't even that many fast food restaurants in existence!
Recently I saw a news story about this company that takes you river rafting. But get this: after you finish your ride you pig-out on the river bank. They serve you this five-course meal with bacon-wrapped scallops and chocolate mousse.
And the same foods are getting more fattening. I'm talking about things like Oreos, which used to be decadent enough. But now they're double-stuffed, then they're dipped in chocolate! Same thing with Twinkies. They used to be fattening as they were. But now you can get them deep-fried!
People keep improving the taste of foods but also raise the calories in the process.
Have you noticed how many cooking shows there are? What about all those magazines with recipes? They make you hungry because vision is the first step in giving in to temptation.
If you have a spending problem, don't go to the mall, because even if you think you are only going to just look around, once you cast your eyes on something that looks good, your desire builds and the next thing you know, you've got the credit card out. Same goes for sexual sin. You think you're going to harmlessly watch this or that on TV or on the movies and the visual stimulus causes you to give into temptation.
Same thing with food.
Another thing that has changed is the size of our portions. If you were to move into an old home that still had its original kitchen cupboards you would be forced to replace them because our modern day dinner plates don't fit in cupboards of the past.
Our plates have grown that much. And they're still growing! I have a friend who recently bought new dinner plates and when he got them home realized they were too big to fit in his microwave! I mean portion sizes are out of sight.
We live in the super-size era, and we have simply become accustomed to huge quantities. Restaurants are perhaps the worst offenders. The sheer volume of food, the giant burgers that reach to the ceiling, the mountains of pasta, three or four servings in one...it's insane.
The truth is, our stomachs are only about the size of a fist and we really don't need that much food. Most people only need about 2,000 calories a day. But you wouldn't have any trouble at all finding just one single item on a menu with a whole day's calories in just that one dish.
So when you look at our culture, it's easy to see how we've gotten so fat. The solution is simple, but not easy. If you take out all the emotion, weight control boils down to a simple math problem: calories in, versus calories out.
But it's very difficult to say "no" to all the temptation to overeat. Most of us consider it a daily struggle. But it's certainly worth the effort.