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America's Decline in Healthy Living, and How We Can Become Healthier

Posted by Jeff K. Health Maven


Lately healthy food trends as well as fitness initiatives have started to pop up all over America. This makes sense since according to the CDC : America obesity rates have been increasing at an alarming rate: (note that slide show only goes to 2009, yikes!)


 Of course there are a lot of things that go into health that don't include weight, so we wanted to know what eating habits and fitness habits are the most important and why. To add to that, what problems do you foresee in the near future if we don't change course? Do you think Michelle Obama's fitness campaign is a step in the right direction, or do we need to attack healthy living a completely different way?

Answers (5)
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It could be argued whether the glass is half full, or half empty. Yes, we hear about the growing obesity, even among kids, but there is also unprecedented and growing awareness of healthy, disease preventive foods and healthy life-style. It depends on where you look, at what socio-demographic segment of population and age-group. Shows like "Dr. Oz", "Doctors" and many others educate groups of predominantly women between 30-50, mothers and grandmothers, who determine their children's diet, beside their own. Weight-loss and exercise programs abound. The main point is the growing awareness. That's the point of light we are following and advancing toward. 
I wonder if growing awareness is enough though. Not to take this discussion somewhere else, but people know about the dangers of a lot of things, yet still don't listen (cigarettes?). Some schools have begun to enforce healthier lunch choices which I think is great, but I don't know if it's sustainable. It seems like people really don't get what healthy living could do for them. If health information was part of their daily lives without much effort/thought, we would hit a homerun. For instance I have bad knees, but when I found out jumping rope was great cardio with low impact, and really great overall for toning I started jumping almost daily. It's just too easy for me not to do, plus it's fun!

Yes, Michelle Obama's healthy eating campaign is a step in the right direction. Alice Waters (of Chez Panise fame) helped parents and students at a school in Berkeley, CA put in a vegetable garden. The school uses the veggies for student meals. Kids and parents who have never eaten fresh veggies now do!

But, not all schools will cooperate. Jamie Oliver (famous British chef) tried to bring healthy eating to the Los Angeles public schools and met with brick walls at every turn. His struggles were documented in a series "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution."  It's available on Hulu.

Jamie got high school students to talk on camera about the diabetes in their families. One's girl's 8 year old sister has diabetes. Older family members are very sick. The high school students want to learn the real way to be healthy but don't know where to turn to get help.

The bottom line, I believe, is that all of us who know about healthy eating & living need to share that info with the folks around us. That's why Health Bloggers are so important. 

I completely agree with the comments above. I think Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign is great step. She is very relatable to a lot of people and shares her personal story about why fitness became important. I think the problem lies in systemtic issues with our country. Most gyms are expensive, organic foods tend to be pricer, and the budget cuts to our education system make adding healthy lunch and PE class options difficult for schools in low-income neighborhoods.

Right now I think baby steps and grassroots movements are key. The more healthy bloggers and otherrs using social media teach the health lifestyle the more likely others will want to join along. 


I agree with Lindsey's point about systematic issues.  Cheap food with low nutritional value and sedentary lifestyles are two of the largest systematic hurdles everyone faces. 

Neither are easy challenges to tackle.  Check out Neilsen data on ad spends by the food industry for any year.  You'll see huge brands dumping literally billions of dollars in to advertising, and a tiny fraction of the total spend geared towards healthy foods.  And in regard to the inactivity... so much has changed since I was a kid that I wouldn't even know where to begin!  So I'll stick with this - Sometimes, our "convenient" lifestyle causes more harm than good.

Awareness is always the first step, but you can't force to eat better or exercise.  And to return to your smoking analogy, I don't think anyone believes eating crappy food and vegetating on the couch is good for your health, but people will continue to do it.  The information regarding eating right and exercising is not hidden!  The tools are there.  The will or drive to change?  Not so much. 

Michelle's initiative - great start!  Plus, I think she is right to target youth.  Bad habits start young, but so do good habits.   Those who market high fat, high sugar, high sodium laden foods know this, and this is where intervention like the Let's Move! campaign can do the most good.

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