First, america became a car nation. Everybody love cars, most people have the means to purchase a car, and we love to go everywhere in our car. Unfortunately, in most cities and rural areas, the days of walking and riding bicycles to and from places has diminished greatly. Traffic in many cities is just getting worse and worse and people spend hours a day inactive in their cars while munching on processed foods.
Second, processed foods and the low cost ways american manufacturers produce them. In the 1960’s food manufacturers began using High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) to sweeten foods because it was cheap to use. Since then, as the usage of this sweetener has increased so has the obesity rates in the USA. HFCS has elements in it that inhibit our insulin from being released to lower our blood sugar levels. Bottom line, that’s real bad.
Third, technology has exponentially improved over the last century. Technology was intended to make our lives simpler and easier, but it’s caused longer workweeks now. In the last couple decades, the explosion of the internet and social media sites has people sitting for longer periods of time in front of their computers being inactive, a condition I coined "Internet Paralysis" in a previous article.
Some things we can do to quell the obesity problem:
Doctors and family physicians and fitness and wellness professionals need to work together more in synergy. Currently, only about 20% of family physicians report discussing physical activity with their patients. The fitness industry is very decentralized and fragmented with hundreds of certifications and no real governing bodies. If the fitness industry could organize better, and the medical industry would refer out to and work with fitness professionals more, this could make a quick positive impact in the obesity problem.
Also, 90% of companies in the US are small businesses. However, just 33% of companies that employ fewer than 49 people have worksite health promotion programs in place. Local, state, and federal governments need to offer incentives such as tax breaks to companies that implement wellness programs. Business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce need to continue to be aware of the challenges facing small businesses and help promote the benefits of worksite health programs such as increased productivity, increased efficiency, and reduced absenteeism of their member businesses. Chambers can be at the front lines of helping their small business members harness the advantages of implementing health and wellness worksite health promotion programs.
(Jack Witt is a Health and Fitness Coach providing In Home Personal Training, Personal Training at Private Fitness Centers in the North Hollywood, Burbank, Studio City, Sherman Oaks areas, as well as Worksite Health Programs, Corporate Wellness, Life Coaching Products, and Group Exercise Classes)