Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults has skyrocketed to 39.8 percent — or about 93.3 million people. Aside from the staggering financial and resource strain this puts on the healthcare system, obesity opens the floodgates to a range of serious and potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, along with several cancers including breast cancer, uterine cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, and post-menopausal cancer.
According to Dr. Allen Amorn, a cardiac electrophysiologist who has spent several years working in the hospital and health care industry, here are three ways to combat America’s worsening — and deadly — obesity crisis:
Invest in Physical Education
About one third of all children are overweight or obese. Yet despite this, research by the CDC found that half of American high school students do not take any physical education courses. Commented Dr. Amorn, who has a special interest in complex catheter ablation including atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, and post MAZE atrial flutters: “We cannot put physical education programs and faculty on the chopping block every time that school boards need to make budget cuts. To put it more bluntly, what does it matter if we are focusing on teaching STEM-related knowledge if by the time today’s students are in their 40s, 30s or even 20s, they are dealing with debilitating and potentially fatal health problems. Physical education is not auxiliary, it is essential.”
Perform Moderate, Regular Exercise
Kids aren’t the only people who need to be active. Adults of all ages should (and with their physician’s approval) perform moderate, regular exercises. Dr. Allen Amorn, who is skilled in all heart rhythm related device implantations including traditional pacemakers, implantable cardioverter/defibrillators (ICDs), cardiac resynchronization (CRTs), left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAOs), leadless pacemakers, and subcutaneous ICD (S-ICDs) stated: “Just 15 to 30 minutes of focused — but not excessive or potentially dangerous — exercising can help people achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, while also supporting cardiovascular function and bone strength. Brisk walking, lane swimming, and weight training are all excellent options. People who need some extra motivation can also take group classes, which are both effective and fun.”
Reduce Consumption of Fatty and Sugary Foods
Foods that contain trans fats — such as commercially baked goods and anything else that has partially hydrogenated oils in the list of ingredients — should be replaced by weight and heart-healthy foods like flax, leafy green vegetables, berries, avocados, and beans. At the same time, banning and boycotting sugary sodas and so-called fruit juices and sports drinks is also important. Dr. Amorn states that fruit juices and sports drinks often contain an astonishing amount of sugar. Many people buy these at the grocery store believing that they’re healthier than conventional sodas, when they’re just as bad — and may be even worse if this mistaken belief leads to overconsumption.
The Bottom Line
There is no single answer or quick fix to America’s obesity crisis. What is clear; however, is that fad diets and dubious products flouted by celebrities on daytime talk shows and late-night infomercials only makes the problem worse. Concluded Dr. Allen Amorn: “Ultimately, it will take a combination of targeted public health education, intelligent government legislation, and informed decision-making at the school, community, family and individual levels.”