To begin with, there is a growing problem of weight gain in America. Why is it that 7 out of 10 people in America are overweight? The answer begins simply with the fact that in general we are a sedentary culture. In the past centuries, people worked by manual labor to make a living. They chopped wood for warmth in the winter, they worked in the fields growing crops, they washed clothes by hand, and their main source of transportation was walking.
As modern technology improved, the invention of various household utilities replaced work that had before been done by hand. In addition, forms of entertainment, such as the TV and radio, grew to become so popular that people spent more and more time sitting rather than engaging in an active lifestyle.
The second part of the problem of being overweight in America is the fact that in general, we eat too much of the wrong foods. Again in centuries past, people worked to raise animals on farms for meat and diary products, and they ate from the produce of their own gardens and orchards.
As time progressed, sugary and fat-laden processed foods became popular with the invention of preservatives. Fast food restaurants popped up everywhere, offering high-calorie, nutrient deficient foods. Why are so many people overweight in this country? The two primary reasons are the influence of sedentary jobs and lifestyles, and the high quantities of processed foods that Americans eat.
In his book Eat to Live, Joel Fuhrman states that almost 90% of the calories that Americans eat come from refined and processed foods, and animal products (Fuhrman 58) These types of foods are extremely high in fat and sugar. Have you ever eaten a meal at Colton’s Steakhouse and ordered cheese fries? A single serving of cheese fries contains a whopping 2,862 calories! According to University of Iowa Healthcare, the amount of calories that the average woman should be consuming daily is about 1,600 – 1,800 calories. So these fries, at almost 3,000 calories, contain almost two day’s worth of calories!
This is just one example of many foods that have such concentrated, empty calories that causes people to gain weight. By “empty” calories, I mean sugar and refined foods which lack nutrients. Americans consume these foods in excess, causing weight gain. Research indicates that more than 75% of all Americans today are overweight. (Fuhrman 157) Being overweight increases a persons risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke and joint issues just to name a few.
Source: Fuhrman, Joel. Eat To Live. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2003.