The death rate from heart disease rose 0.9% last year, per U.S. mortality data released by the CDC. Researchers link the increase to obesity and diabetes. Death rates from heart disease were declining due to anti-smoking campaigns and medications to control blood pressure and cholesterol. The findings signal a reversal of a trend that has been improving for decades.
First lady Michelle Obama has probably received equal amounts of praise and criticism for requiring more nutritious lunches in our nation’s schools. The same is true of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, intent on banning the sale of supersized sodas citywide.
While there are many sides to the issue of government interference in our lives, most would agree that something must be done to address the growing problem of obesity in America, especially among our children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that today, about a third of American adults and as many as 30% of children and adolescents are obese. Studies show that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80% chance of becoming an obese adult.
The causes of obesity are complex, including genetic, biological, behavioral and cultural factors. When one parent is obese, there is a 50% chance that their children will follow. If both parents are obese, the likelihood increases to 80%. And while medical disorders, family history, stress and emotional problems are significant factors, the most common causes continue to be poor eating habits, overeating and a lack of exercise.
In the absence of a physical disorder, the only way to lose weight is to reduce the number of calories being eaten and to increase the level of physical activity. While imposing nutrition and diet restrictions in our schools only addresses a small part of the problem, it should prove to be a big step in the right direction.