Friday, July 09, 2010

Why so many more people are getting too fat....

Today's Post: Friday, 7-9-2010

There are 3 reasons.

They happened for understandable, even partially beneficial reasons. They happened gradually. But the pace and spread of these 3 things have gone up dramatically in the last 50 years and in the last 20. No surprise, so have the number and percentage of people who are too fat and in exactly that time period.

Most unfortunately, being too fat and the direct effects of these three causes also often cause heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and other diseases that have helped cause the dramatic and increasingly unsustainable increases in medical care costs. These increases also happened at the same time as the increase in these 3 causes and in more people getting too fat.

1. Before 1905, even most rich people had to do so much walking and get other physical activity that very few were fat. Since 1960, in the United States and in other developed countries, people drive almost everywhere they want to go and they have so many labor saving devices that they also spend far less time doing other physical activities.

2. Before 1950, virtually no one watched television. Beginning in the late 1950’s to the early 1970’s virtually everyone watched television. That means that in less than 20 years people in the United States went from doing things like playing cards or reading or playing baseball themselves to all sitting and watching TV instead. Studies even show people began having sex less often because of TV. From the point of excess fat, this is very unfortunate. One study found that watching TV burns less calories than sleeping.

Today, the average person watches TV more than 2 hours a day, seven days a week. Some people even spend more time watching TV than they do working.

These two things combined mean that people today burn far fewer calories than they did not that long ago.

But our bodies are set to expect the food that would support the greater exercise and activities needed. In addition, the doctor who specialized in the effects of exercise, Kenneth Cooper, MD, quoted studies that found that in addition to burning more calories, exercising and being active allows our bodies to process carbs and fats without problems or causing illness. Before, people could get away with eating more and even eating more desserts and similar foods.

3. But before 1950, people tended to eat real foods and LESS sugar, desserts, snacks, and soft drinks. Few people ate foods made with omega 6 oils.

Since then, in part because these things are heavily advertised on the TV so many people spend hours watching and in part because they have become so cheap to provide, people eat far more sugar, desserts, snacks, and soft drinks.

Worse, the same changes in agriculture and the food industry, have degraded the quality of even real foods and added things to them our bodies do not process well and that cause disease.

It seems simple. If you can make things for people that taste good and keep driving down the cost to provide them, you make more money and people like your stuff.

Between government subsidies to farmers to help them grow more food for less money, the trend in farming towards industrial, mass production methods using these now cheaper foods, everyone had an incentive to do the things they did.

Then, since these foods were advertised heavily on the TV everyone was watching, people bought more of them and the food companies made and sold more.

So, since people saw them advertised on TV and on store shelves they bought them. Then they noticed most people were doing the same.

Gradually foods and drinks that didn’t even exist before 1905 became more than half the calories people took in.

People thought of them as normal and began to perceive people who did not as strange.

There were two huge problems with that. People were no longer active enough to burn off all the extra calories from these foods and drinks or process them safely. And, they still had bodies evolved for hundreds of thousands of years to eat the things people at before 1905.

What can be done now?

People who learn this and who want to be less fat and to stay healthy, can reverse each of these 3 things for themselves.

They can get vigorous exercise, walking, and other physical activity each week instead of none.

They can cut back on watching TV to 14 hours a week or less.

They can eat and drink foods that existed before 1905 and that were raised more in the ways those foods were raised and totally or close to totally stop ingesting the foods and drinks advertised on TV that did not.

They can eat organic produce. They can eat grass fed beef and pasture raised chicken and wild caught fish. (That only works if the grassland and pasture and water are unpolluted.) They can stop buying and stop eating and drinking pre-made, packaged desserts and snacks and regular and diet soft drinks. They can also stop eating almost anything made with refined grains.

Those changes prevent or help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, & cancer.

And, since they increase the calories people burn and drop the excess and unproductive calories that so many people have been getting, they will be far less fat as well.

What about getting less knowledgeable and self-directed people to be less fat and in better health to stop health care costs from going up so much it slows the economy?

There are two ways.

One has been proven to work.

The other has worked to some degree and may evolve to work even better.

Here’s the one that works for sure.:

The new nonfoods and the sugar and refined flour that are now consumed in amounts ten times what people’s bodies can process safely, must all be taxed.

Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, all hydrogenated oils, refined grains, oils high in omega 6, MSG & related compounds, all should be taxed and taxed heavily.

This has been tested to work. Making real food cheaper just got shoppers to get more treat foods with the savings. But making junky foods and drinks cost more got the shoppers to buy less of them and more real foods.

Even better, it’s a way for governments to raise tax revenues without slowing the economy.

The one that has worked to some degree and may evolve to work even better is to have employers who pay health care costs or who want productive and healthy workers to support these three changes effectively.

That means things like making sure their employees learn these things.

It means removing vending machines or at least removing these kinds of foods and drinks from them. And, it means discontinuing the practices that provide these foods and drinks in the workplace such as buying donuts or fast food for employees or providing them with soft or having people bring treat foods to work to share.

Adding exercise facilities or buying memberships in local gyms for employees also works and the employees who use them like them and stay at that employer more than in companies that do not.

The bad news is that these things are NOT being done close to enough by governments and employers yet.

The good news is that you can do these things for yourself.

You can vote in favor of such taxes and support politicians who do.

And, you can make these changes in your company if you are the boss or the health and wellness director and get the boss to OK them.

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