A raft of sobering reports released in July 2013 reveals some surprising facts underlying the overall health and wellbeing of Americans today. We’re here to give you the good news, the bad news—and a little more good news at the end.
Here’s something to jump for joy about: Americans are moving more than ever before. Over the last decade, the number of women in this country meeting their minimum physical activity requirements (150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week) has increased 4.7 percent1. Now, just over half of women in the U.S. are getting what they need—and they’re catching up to men, of whom 56 percent meet the recommendation. But we can do better than half, can’t we?
We have to, because even this positive upswing in biking, hiking, jogging and swimming isn’t doing enough to stem the tide of obesity. (Here’s the start of that bad news we were talking about.) Obesity is still on the rise. More than 36 percent of women are obese, up 6.4 percentage points since 2001. Of course, a lack of activity isn’t the only thing that leads to obesity. There’s another obvious cause, and that’s what and how much we eat.
The bad news continues: According to a nationwide report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, our diets are the number one cause of death in this country2. More than cancer, more than heart disease3, more than tobacco. If you have any question whether what you choose to put in your body really matters, consider this: The 678,282 premature deaths in 2010 attributable to dietary risks is significantly greater than the totals for smoking, alcohol and drugs, combined.
So what does this mean? Well, that’s the other good news. It means there’s a simple, easy way you can take control of your health. Eat better food. Limiting processed and fast food, incorporating fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables into every meal, and cutting down on sugar (especially in beverage form) is a cure-all for better health and wellness. And you don’t need a prescription!
1. Prevalence of physical activity and obesity in US counties, 2001--2011: a road map for action. Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, Greg Freedman, Rebecca E Engell, Thomas D Fleming, Stephen S Lim, Christopher JL Murray and Ali H Mokdad. http://www.pophealthmetrics.com/content/11/1/7/abstract 2. US Burden of Disease Collaborators. The state of US health, 1990-2010: burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors [published online July 10, 2013]. Journal of the American Medical Association. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2013.13805. 3. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm
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