AROUND THE WORLD, paradoxically coexisting with malnutrition, is an escalating global obesity epidemic. It affects almost all ages and socioeconomic groups and is threatening to engulf even the wealthiest and most developed countries in the world. In 1995 there were around 200 million obese adults worldwide. Just five years later, there were more than 300 million.
The undisputed champion in this category is the U.S. We in America are getting fatter and fatter by the day. It’s costing our country hundreds of billions of health care dollars and billions more in lost worker productivity. It’s ruining millions of lives. It’s even affecting military recruitment: 70% of today’s youth are not fit to serve in the military due in a large part to obesity, according to a recent study.
Something needs to change.
Obesity carries with it a raft of aggressive health problems: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, among others. And obesity creates a vicious cycle: the more overweight one is, the less likely one is to exercise, the less active one is throughout the day, the more sedentary one is, and the slower one’s metabolism runs. Weight gain becomes increasingly easy. Controlling one’s weight becomes increasingly hard.
My company, Advanced Tissue, provides products which support the doctor’s efforts to treat slow-healing wounds caused by type-2 diabetes, a condition which is, in many cases, avoidable through healthy eating and exercise. More than 84 million Americans––one third of the population––are pre-diabetic, or on their way to developing full-blown, type-2 diabetes. And 90% of those people don’t even know it.
In the vast majority of cases, obesity––and the conditions to which it leads, like diabetes, as mentioned above––is the result of making poor lifestyle choices. Our system enables people to become addicted to foods that are slowly killing them. Fewer and fewer parents cook for their children which has created our take-out society creating obese parents that generationally progresses. And just as a child whose parent or parents smoke is more likely to take up the habit, the sons and daughters of obese parents are more likely to become obese themselves. We have a self-discipline problem, a cultural problem and a health literacy problem that urgently needs to be addressed.
A historically healthy population has made the decision to become unhealthy. The cost of obesity to the country is mind boggling. The suffering it is causing to individuals and families is tragic. We now need to re-establish self-discipline as a virtue, and look for ways to improve health literacy at every level of society. We need to raise awareness of the cost and diminishing lifestyles that our eating and exercise habits are having on us as a nation. And without delay we need to start to reverse the trend and become healthy again.