Obesity a growing problem


    By Aaron McCullough

    Obesity has become on of the fastest growing health problems in the nation, with more than 65 percent of Americans qualifying as either overweight or obese, according to the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

    Utah is no exception to the national trend, according to the Center for Disease Control.

    The number of overweight Utahans doubled from 9 percent in 1991 to 18 percent in 2000, the CDC reported.

    The NHNES survey reported the percentage of overweight American children and adolescents has tripled since 1980.

    “From a public health perspective, immediate intervention is critical, as studies show that most children who are overweight grow up to be overweight or obese adults,” the report stated.

    Mississippi and Alabama recorded the highest percentage of obese adults, with nearly a fourth of the population of each state qualifying as obese, according to CDC statistics.

    Colorado and Montana are the states with the skinniest overall population, with only 13 to 15 percent of adults who are considered obese.

    Obesity in America is most prevalent in minorities.

    Black women become obese twice as fast as white women, and Hispanic men become obese 2.5 times faster than white men, the CDC reported.

    Dr. Joseph Miner, of the Utah County Health Department, said poor diet and inactivity are to blame, stressing most people should simply eat less.

    “I”m convinced that the problem isn”t what is eaten so much as the amount that is eaten,” Miner said. “People just put away way too much.”

    “One meal served at a local good restaurant could easily feed three people with plenty of calories.”

    Miner suggested stretching meals and snacks to avoid eating too much at one time.

    “Rather than eating the whole meal, eat a fourth of it and take the rest home,” he said.

    “If you want your candy bar, eat a fourth of it rather than eating the whole thing.”

    Overeating is only half the problem, he said. Inactivity is also to blame.

    Miner suggested simple solutions like walking more and taking the stairs instead of using elevators as excellent ways to get healthier and stay healthy.

    “Some of the healthiest people I know are in their nineties,” he said.

    “I have some in-laws who are in their nineties and very trim. They have walked several miles a day as a life-long way of doing things. All of their siblings who haven”t done that have passed away.”

    Miner said drinking enough water is an important part of good health.

    However, he warned that eight glasses of water a day should be the maximum, not the norm.

    Drinking water is also an important step to controlling eating habits, he said.

    “I think a lot of people eat when they”re actually thirsty – I”ve noticed it even with myself.”

    Miner suggested drinking a glass of water before meals to avoid the tendency of eating to quench thirst.

    “It”s important to make sure you”re not thirsty when you start to eat.”

    Obesity Stats

    * Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

    * The percentage of overweight American children and adolescents has tripled since 1980.

    * The number of overweight Utahans doubled from nine percent in 1991 to 18 percent in 2000.

    * Colorado & Montana have the skinniest adult population.

    * Almost 25 percent of adults in Mississippi & Alabama are obese.

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