Greater knowledge of how the human body works and data gathering has proven the link between obesity and poor health. Obesity has been identified as the second biggest cause of preventable death in America and over sixty million Americans over the age of twenty are classified as obese. In addition, in excess of nine million children and teens over the age of six are overweight. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy food choices are big contributors to the current situation but simple changes can reverse the trend towards increasing levels of obesity in society.
Obesity is caused by a periodic excess of calories taken on by the body over calories expended. Lifestyle choices can be amended to make small differences to calorie intake or to the amount of calories used during a day. Depending upon the calorie deficit that needs to be overcome, an individual can soon create the combined calorie changes required to actively reduce obesity and increase fitness levels.
The obesity problem can be tackled in two different ways: by reducing calories or by increasing exercise levels. This means that there are many options open to individuals seeking to make positive lifestyle choices. There are other routes to improved levels of fitness which are not directly linked to calorific intake such as not smoking, eating less salt and ensuring that nine different fruits and vegetable types are eaten on a daily basis.
How To Make A Change
Many people are so set in their ways that they find it difficult to change existing behaviors. Anyone is capable of making a positive choice but daily routines often blur the route to a healthier lifestyle. Daily domestic routines and work commitments can make individuals time poor and this is often when choices are made to take the automobile a short distance that could be reached by walking, or to eat a sugary snack when a piece of fruit may provide the required amount of energy to overcome an energy dip. People become accustomed to making negative choices and to those around them behaving in a similar way. This validates the lifestyle decisions that are taken. Lifestyle changes are not always sustainable if they are dramatically introduced, particularly after a long period of neglect. It may be a step too far for an individual with an dislike of fruit and vegetables to suddenly eat nine portions a day so, whilst this may be an optimal amount, it might be appropriate for someone to adopt a target of eating just one more portion a day. When this is achieved with ease, the target can be stepped up. The important thing is that the person making the change feels comfortable with doing so and is not put under instant pressure. Just eating one additional portion a day can cut the risk of premature death by twenty per cent.
Small Steps Lead To Big Changes
It is not practical for an obese person to begin running long distances but someone serious about changing their lifestyle for the better can start that process of change by purchasing a pedometer and increasing the number of steps walked each day. Once steps are achieved with ease then running can be introduced and the distance covered increased. By building up the level of training steadily and breaking down targets into smaller increments, an individual is able to maintain desire and is more likely to achieve the end goal of a sustainable, healthier lifestyle.
Wider Public Health Issues
South Carolina has a number of public health issues that are above average for America relating to drug and alcohol dependancy. The South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services monitors closely trends in hospital referrals or admissions. Over thirty thousand residents of the state have been taken into hospital showing signs of alcohol or drug abuse and over two thirds of these are male. Whilst cases have remained consistently high at over thirty thousand people per year, abuser groups such as cocaine have declined to just a third of their peak level reached in 2005. This demonstrates the success of substance abuse programs employed in South Carolina in tackling the causes of some types of abuse. Overall intakes have declined for three successive years up to 2012 and it is hoped that the improvement in drug and alcohol abuse statistics continues to improve.
A number of organizations have introduced schemes aimed at improving public health in South Carolina and the Clemson Cooperative Extension has introduced a “Healthy Lifestyles Challenge” aimed at challenging individuals to develop a range of skills whilst creating a healthy meal. Many of the organizations developing lifestyle plans or consultancy advice belong to the medical healthcare sector and so have a keen interest in improving the health of local citizens. One scheme that stands out is a football camp set up by former NFL defensive tackle Langton Moore. Having lost both his parents to conditions that could have been prevented by a healthier lifestyle, Moore recognizes the link between poor lifestyle choices and long term health. He is also aware that South Carolina is ranked in the top ten of states for obesity and diabetes in America, a position he would like to alter. The boot camp is aimed at people in the state who may not have health insurance. Children are invited to participate in a football camp whilst adults are screened for a range of medical conditions and given advice on how to improve their health. By using a popular sport to access a range of people not touched by other programs Moore’s initiative provides a positive message where it is needed most. With increasing awareness and education on how to make positive changes the fight against obesity can be won and a healthier nation will reduce the present strain on medical services. The battle is underway and lives are being saved already, the pace of change may be as steady but the impact on public health will be greater year on year an obesity will cease to become the scourge of America.
Written by Lisa Bryant