Sleep, Exercise, and the Obesity Epidemic: Part 1
Obesity in America
Life as a human being in the modern world is riddled with sociocultural roadblocks and biological mechanisms that corrupt our judgment and actions towards the negative aspects of existence on Earth, which make it difficult to navigate the planet safely without falling into the common patterns and habits of our ancestral past.
In a time of great progress in technology and science; enormous profits in the financial sector; progress in the pharmaceutical and medical industry; expansion of the labor and job market to provide people of all races, ethnicities, and genders greater opportunities at making a living; and further knowledge and understanding about our position in the Universe, human beings continue to move forward in the direction of the future. Yet, the foundation of human health and happiness seems to elude many in the United States from living a healthy and active life.
For all of our progress and human ingenuity, many Americans lack the time, energy, and money to meet the fundamental requirements of physical activity, proper diet, and adequate sleep during their short time on this planet. Our busy lives often interfere with the most significant and important aspects of what it means to be a healthy and productive human being, which forces many to choose work and money to fund their lives and material obsessions over precious time and human happiness in the form of physical and mental health and intellectual knowledge.
By recognizing our shortcomings and admitting our ignorance in areas where we are capable of more, we can regain the health and time that modern society has stolen from us. When we make the conscious mental shift towards taking care of our minds and our bodies over short-term, immediate gratification, then we can prevent profit-driven corporations and the evolutionary adapted habits and hangups of the sedentary American cultural lifestyle from infecting our lives.
Body Mass Index Scale
- BMI is determined by a person’s weight in kilograms/divided by the square of height in meters.
- A BMI of 25 to 29.9 kg/m^2 indicates that an individual is overweight; 30 kg/m^2 or more indicates obesity.
- BMI scale does not account for lean mass and ethnic differences.
- Class 1: BMI 30 to 35;
- Class 2: BMI 35 to 40:
- Class 3: BMI 40+ (Extreme/Severe/Morbid)
Obesity Rates in the United States
- Lowest rates of obesity in the United States: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, Utah, Vermont, D.C. (Western states had the lowest prevalence of obesity at 25 percent).
- Highest rates: Mississippi, West Virginia (South had the highest prevalence of obesity at 30 percent).
- 48 states with an obesity rate of over 25%.
- 29 states with an obesity rate of over 30%.
- Seven states had an obesity rate of over 35%.
- West Virginia: 38.1%
- Mississippi: 37.3%
- Oklahoma: 36.5%
- Iowa: 36.4%
- Alabama: 36.3%
- Louisiana: 36.2%
- Arkansas: 35%
Obesity in Children Age 2-19:
- 1999-2000: 13.9%
- 2015-2016: 18.5%
Obesity in Children by Age Range:
- 1 in 5 adolescents age 12-19.
- 1 in 5 kids age 6-11.
- 1 in 10 preschoolers age 2-5.
Obesity in Adults Age 20+:
- 1999-2000: 30.5%
- 2015-2016: 39.6%
Obesity by Age:
- 40% of adults age 40-59 are obese.
- 35% of age 60+ are obese.
- 30% of age 20-39 are obese.
- 18.5% of children age 2-19 are obese.
- 75 percent of American men and 60 percent of women are overweight/obese.
Prevalence of Obesity from 1970 to 2008
- Age 2-5: 5% to 10%
- Age 6-11: 4% to 20%
- Age 12-19: 6% to 18%
- Age 20+: 15% to 34%
- From 1971 to 2000, obesity rates among Americans doubles from 14.5 percent to 30.9 percent. As of 2016, the obesity rate increased to 39.8 percent.
The Difference in Diet from the 1970s to Today
- Americans eat 23 percent more calories today than we did in 1970.
- Calorie intake increased by 600 in the average American from 1970-2008.
- Consumption of added fats increased by two-thirds, grain consumption rose 45 percent.
- Sugary drinks made up 4 percent of daily calorie intake in the United States in 1970; today, they make up 11 percent of daily calorie intake.
- Americans spent 27 percent of their food budget away from home in 1970; by 2006, that percentage rose to 46 percent.
Americans that want to lose weight
- The 1950s- 21 percent of men and 45 percent of women.
- The 1990s- 44 percent of men and 61 percent of women.
- The 2000s- 52 percent of men and 65 percent of women.
- 2010-2016- 46 percent of men and 60 percent of women.
- BMI: 18.5 to 24.9.
- Blood Pressure: 120/80 mmHg.
- Low-Density Lipoprotein/LDL Cholesterol (Bad Cholesterol): Less than 100 mg/dl
- High-Density Lipoprotein/ HDL Cholesterol (Good Cholesterol): More than 40 mg/dl for men and more than 50 mg/dl for women.
Obesity in the United States
The American Medical Association declared obesity a national epidemic in 2013, after 93 million American adults, 40 percent of the country, were affected by extreme weight gain; including an additional 30 percent of Americans that are considered overweight, bringing the total of overweight or obese adults in the United States to 160 million, 70 percent of the adult population. An epidemic is defined as a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.
If Americans continue their weight gain at the current rate, half of the country will be obese by 2030; and while the United States accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s population, the country is home to 13 percent of the world’s obese population. This not only has dangerous health implications and societal stigmatization for those that are directly affected, but also places extreme strain on the economic system and medical industry as they both attempt to keep pace with obesity-related health conditions and the consequences of a larger, less active, more sedentary, and increasingly unhealthy American culture.
Americans are notorious for treating the symptoms of illness and disease rather than the root cause, a market-oriented and profit-driven approach that encourages fad-diets, prescription weight loss medication, complex medical treatments, and get-slim-quick schemes that never fully grasp or cure the biological mechanics, internal suffering or external factors behind extreme weight gain.
We create and invent novel, but flawed, ways to circumvent our biological bodies propensity towards the excess food consumption and fat storage that leads to obesity, in the hope that the answer to our weight and exercise problem exists somewhere externally outside of ourselves, in some medication, or in some medical or cultural figurehead that pretends to have the answers. The motivation to exercise often, eat healthy foods, and sleep for the recommended number of hours comes from an act of will from inside of ourselves that demands a change in our behavior and breaks free from the common patterns and inherited habits of the unhealthy American cultural operating system.
In order provide help and assistance to those that are looking to make the conscious mental shift towards a healthier lifestyle, the country must address and encourage a radical change in all areas of American society and culture, including:
- The enormous amount of time that we dedicate to work, away from our homes and families.
- The socioeconomic and environmental factors that prevent people from certain races or geographical locations from gaining access to healthy food for a fair price and safe areas to exercise at parks or gyms.
- The amount and type of food that we eat; the evolutionary adapted biological mechanism of fat storage in the body and how today’s society and food options are misdirected towards capitalizing off of our ability to store energy as fat in the body.
- The time that we put in to exercise our bodies.
- Our extreme sugar addiction, a deadly drug that causes many health issues, leads to many cases of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and death.
- The manner in which we educate our children in schools and at home about the importance of proper diet and exercise.
- The way in which we market food to adults and children with manipulative advertisements and subliminal messages that trick the mind into overlooking the health consequences of certain unhealthy foods.
- The importance of getting the recommended amount of sleep.
- The policies, laws, and programs that influence the obesity epidemic in the United States.
Confronting these issues, among others, and recognizing that much of the cultural stigmatization, societal suffering, health implications and economic stress of obesity can be removed when Americans are willing to put in the work through physical activity, proper diet, and sleep.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized obesity as a global epidemic in 1997; but the rate of overweight and obesity around the world continues to climb each year, surpassing 2 billion people, 30 percent of the global population. Since 1975, the obesity rate has tripled around the world. There are 10 times more overweight and obese children living today, which comes out to more than 108 million children, including 41 million kids under the age of five, living with obesity.
World Health Organization believes that at least 60 percent of the global population is physically inactive. As the Standard American Diet of fast food, frozen food, added sugars, processed meat, and packaged food becomes more available to foreign countries, and the Western, industrialized lifestyle of more work, less time and energy for physical activity, spreads across the planet, infecting countries previously independent of American influence, the evolutionary and biological mechanisms of energy storage in the human body continue to pack on weight in the form of fat for the world population.
Today, 65 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where obesity kills more people than starvation; half of the planet’s obese people live in only 10 countries: United States, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan, Indonesia. Overweight and obesity is the fifth leading cause of death worldwide, killing at least 2.8 million people each year, mostly from diabetes, stroke, and heart disease contracted from eating unhealthy and processed foods that are high in sugar, trans-fat, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, (the bad cholesterol that lowers levels of the good cholesterol in the body, called high-density lipoprotein, or HDL cholesterol).
Obesity in American Children
Adults should be free to live their lives as unhealthy and as inactive as they choose, as long as they are not hurting others in the process, but the way in which we market food to children, teach them unhealthy eating habits and feed them fast and junk food for the sake of convenience deserves the most severe condemnation and swiftest punishment. Children are in the early process of discovering what the Earth and the human operating system are all about, relying on the knowledge and information that adults pass on to them. Kids count on this information to be truthful and reliable from trusted adults that are supposed to know more about the dangerous health consequences of living a sedentary life filled with overconsumption of fast and junk food that leads directly to a lower quality of life, social stigmatization, illness, disease, and death.
Adult behavior encourages and motivates children to commit the same mistakes and fall into the same patterns and habits of our past, even with the knowledge and technology of today. Generations of children base their lives around this incorrect information and grow up to raise their own children based on this foundation of unhealthy eating and exercise habits, resulting in the obesity epidemic that we see today. This creates a disconnect and propagates mistrust during the child’s upbringing that forces an antagonistic view of the world to develop and general skepticism about the information coming from adults.
The modern world is as complex and strange as ever with the development of technology and digital devices that suck up our attention with distractions that encourage sedentary behavior and unhealthy and addictive habits that follow kids into adult life. A child in the United States will spend an average of three-to-six hours in front of a screen each day, some may spend up to eight; not only does this mean that children sit for long periods without physical activity, but they will also be confronted with manipulative and deceitful advertisements from fast and junk food companies that use devious marketing techniques to trigger a dopamine rush in the child’s brain into desiring unhealthy, and often addictive, foods. Children that watch three hours of television, or more, per day, are 50 percent more likely to be obese than children who watch fewer than two hours of television per day.
Studies of American children’s food intake show that some kids get as much as 40 percent of their daily calories from added sugars and unhealthy fats, which are considered empty calories that provide no nutritional value; three-fourths of kids age 6-15 fail to meet dietary guidelines recommended one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. These two major compounding factors in children allow unhealthy habits to develop and creates an internal environment in the body that seeks out and is comforted by unhealthy foods. As children grow older, this behavior becomes ingrained in their minds and bodies, making it more difficult as time passes to break away from the bad habits developed as a child.
For the first time, today’s children have a lower life expectancy than their parents, primarily because of eating patterns and lack of physical exercise that increases the likelihood of early-onset illnesses and diseases like stroke, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. A child’s likelihood of obesity increases by 25 percent if one or both of the parents are obese; not so much from direct DNA inheritance, as many people assume, but from external epigenetic factors that have nothing to do with changes to the DNA. Epigenetic factors can range from family eating and exercise habits, education, sociocultural lifestyle, the surrounding food environment of early childhood, and food marketing that influences purchasing behavior.
Since children’s bodies develop at different ages and at different speeds for boys and girls; for this reason, pediatricians use a percentile method, rather than the adult BMI scale, to determine obesity. A child in the 85th percentile or above is considered overweight, and in the 95th percentile or above is considered obese, meaning that the child’s weight is greater than 85-95 percent of kids in their age and gender category. Like the adult BMI scale, this system does not account for lean body mass or ethnic differences, meaning that the percentile method is not completely accurate, but does provide a rough average of obesity rates for children in the United States.
From 1980 to 2013, the rate of obesity in American children increased by 50 percent; today, one in three American children are considered overweight; one in five are considered obese, which amounts to over 13.7 million kids age 2-19, or 18.5 percent of all American children living with obesity, including 26 percent of Hispanic children; 22 percent of African-American children; 14 percent of white children; and 11 percent of Asian-American children. At the current pace, one-half of all American teenagers and one-third of kids age 6 to 11 will be obese or overweight by 2030.
The likelihood of an obese child becoming an obese adult increases from 20 percent at age four, to 80 percent by adolescence, which is why obesity prevention in children is important so that adults do not create and allow for an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise to develop among kids. Studies show that the longer that babies are breastfed, the less likely they are to become overweight as they grow older. Breastfed babies are 15 to 25 percent less likely to become overweight; for those that are breastfed for six months or longer, the likelihood of becoming overweight is 20 to 40 percent less than those that receive their nutrition from store-bought formulas.
Why Do Humans Gain Weight
Weight gain, overweight, obesity occur when you take in more calories in food than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities. A calorie is a unit of measurement of the energy contained in food and the body heat required to raise one gram of water in the body by one degree Celsius. As energy is exerted, the body temperature increases and calories are burned; however, when the body consumes food in excess without engaging in physical activity to burn off the calories, then these calories will continue to accumulate in the body as fat.
Through hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and many generations of humans living and fighting for survival on the face of the Earth, the body has developed and adapted biological mechanisms to store excess food as energy in the form of fat tissue (also called adipose cell tissue), in order to access for later use during times of food scarcity. This fat adipose tissue increases or decreases in size depending on the amount of fat that the body is storing. In our past, the human beings that were capable of storing the most amount of fat on their bodies were the most likely to survive and pass on their genes, which is why overweight and obesity are so prevalent today; we are the descendants of ancient humans with the greatest ability to store energy in fat cells.
If not for the evolutionary adapted ability of our ancient ancestors to store fat as energy in cell tissue, humans would not be alive in the state that we exist in today. These hunter-gatherer humans needed to exert 100 percent effort to grow, catch, and kill calorie and nutrient-dense and vitamin-rich whole foods like plants, fruits, nuts, and wild game; and during times of food scarcity, these primitive humans had to rely on their fat storage, which created a biological environment in the body that thrives off of periods of feasting and fasting. As the hunter-gatherer body went thought these cycles of food abundance and famine over thousands of years and many generations, human DNA slowly began to change to prepare for and thrive off of this type of interaction with food.
The evolutionary adapted mechanism of fat storage was beneficial in the jungles and forests of the past, but represents a maladaptive trait for human beings in modern society where food is abundant and consumption requires zero effort to find foods that are high in sugar, sodium, and fat, and provide no nutritional value or vitamin density. Humans of the past several decades could drive to the grocery store to purchase food or pull to the drive-thru window to order unhealthy items; now, food is ordered and delivered at the push of a button; other people now shop on your behalf through an app and drive the food to your front door. It has never been easier to find and consume unhealthy and nutrient deficient food at any hour of the day, nor has it ever been easier to get by without the physical exercise required for our existence, health, and survival as a human being.
Our bodies- and especially our brains- thrive off of physical activity, releasing endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine (the happiness and pleasure neurotransmitters) in the brain, when we engage in vigorous activity that boosts our heart rate. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors were constantly under threat from dangerous animals and volatile climate in their external environment; their minds, which are our minds too, adapted to prepare for, and in some ways, seek out these dangerous situations where our heart rate increases, because this provided us with the feeling of fighting for our survival- to run away from danger, to catch our food, to discover a new place or encounter a different tribe- these situations gave us the feeling and provided us with answers of what it means to really exist in the present moment in the face of danger and insecurity, or safety and elation. The feeling of what it means to survive and thrive as a living being.
Modern society lacks lions, tigers, and bears to fear and run from, so we fear and run from each other. We focus on our strange differences and force others to conform to our subjective interpretation of the world or else be ostracized and outcast from the social order. The bond that united our ancestors in their fight for survival in the jungles and forests of the past is lost in our society today, as people invent modern, tribal political and social communities to feel a sense of belonging in the fight against an illusory enemy.
Contemporary culture, and many people in it, with bodies withered and atrophied from a lack of use, have lost this feeling of what it is and what it means to be alive and the joy and happiness that comes from the direct understanding and experience of life on Earth. The challenges of the modern lifestyle do not fully convince us of the primal feelings and emotions that lie inherent in our DNA, which forces us to seek out behavior and form unhealthy habits that contradict the foundation of knowledge and the evolutionary adapted biological mechanisms of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Much of our lives and experiences have been co-opted by technology, cultural standards, and the safety, ease, and security of the modern lifestyle. The vital and invigorating human experience now comes in the form of secondhand experience that robs us of our health and happiness.
Our external environment continues to change as society become easier and safer to survive, but our biological bodies are still running on the hunter-gatherer 1.0 operating system, believing that food is nutrient-dense and scarce, so it better store as much as possible in fat tissue in case of food scarcity at a later time.
Our bodies and our DNA have not had enough time to change and adapt to the rapid and ubiquitous introduction of unhealthy food into American society, forcing human beings to confront the consequences of our ancient biology as it attempts to evolve and survive in a different world. These circumstances represent epigenetic changes in the external environment that occur in a person’s lifetime, which move faster than biological changes to our DNA. We confront these epigenetic changes without the necessary biological tools to overcome them and to control our bodies craving for high-fat and sugary foods.
The human body craves fat; it requires fat to survive. Fatty foods provide twice as much energy as carbohydrates and proteins. This energy is used during exercise and for our basal metabolic rate (metabolism), which regulates hormones, cell growth, digestion, blood circulation, body temperatures, breathing, and brain processing while the body is at rest. Our metabolism is responsible for the majority of the calories that the body burns. But when our bodies lack vital nutrients and exercise, our internal systems are thrown off of the evolutionary track and fall into the unhealthy habits and patterns of our current cultural surroundings. As people age, the metabolism slows due to the wearing down of cells; when metabolism slows, people who eat the same amount of food or more will gain weight as energy is used with less efficiency over longer periods, meaning that energy is stored in the body for longer as fat. The problem lies in excess and overconsumption of unhealthy fats and added sugars, which modern society provides with ease and abundance.
Standard American Diet: (S.A.D.)
Standard American Diet Statistics
- Americans consume one-third of their daily calories away from home.
- Americans consume 13 percent of their daily calories from added sugar; 70 percent of Americans exceed daily recommended amount of added sugar and fat.
- The average American consumes 35 to 40 percent of their total daily calorie intake from added sugar or fat.
- 63 percent of Americans calories come from refined and processed foods; only 6 percent comes from plant-based foods.
- 90 percent of Americans do not eat enough vegetables; 75 percent do not eat enough fruit.
- 75 percent of Americans consume fast food monthly; 50 percent consume it weekly.
- 3 out of 4 Americans do not eat any fruit on a given day; 9 of 10 do not eat enough vegetables; 96 percent do not reach the recommended greens and beans intake; 98 percent do not reach recommended orange vegetable intake.
- 2007-2010: Americans consumed 11 percent of their calories from fast food.
- -90 percent of Americans eat too much sodium, which causes the body to retain water and gain weight. Americans, on average, consume 3,400 mg of sodium per day (2,300 recommended). Reducing sodium intake by 1,200 mg per day could see $20 billion a year in medical costs.
- USDA: For people consuming the Standard American Diet, nearly 1000 calories a day (out of 2775) are attributed to added fats and sugar; 424 calories come from fruits and vegetables.
- USDA reports that Americans ate 20 percent more calories in 2000 than they did in 1983, in part, because of excess meat consumption. Average American eats 195 pounds of meat annually, compared to 138 pounds in the 1950s. Much of this meat consumption comes in the form of fast food or factory-farmed meat that is high in antibiotics and hormones.
When you think of the global influence of the United States and the role that the country plays on the international stage, some might reference the music, movie, and the rest of the pop-culture and entertainment industry; others may mention American Universities; others may declare American politics and economics; the discoveries of American scientists and inventors; some may agree that the medical and pharmaceutical industry plays an important role in influencing the rest of the planet; a few people may mention American sports teams or particular athletes; some people will declare that labor and productivity in the workforce as important factors in global leadership; many will mention American freedom and democracy as beacons of hope and examples for the rest of the planet to pursue.
Many areas and aspects of the ingenuity and success of the modern, industrialized world show that the United States is often at the forefront of scientific, political, social, cultural, and economic progress. With all of our success, productivity, knowledge, and influence over the Earth, however, socio-cultural and political leaders in the United States often disseminate ignorance in areas where knowledge and understanding is painful, for the sake of shrouding an uncomfortable truth behind deceit and delusion in order to control and constrict the population. These leaders encourage negative patterns to set in for the sake of convenience and allow unhealthy habits to develop as a necessary evil in order to remain a global superpower and leader over other nations. When the standards and negative patterns that lead to obesity take hold of our lifestyle, our minds become corrupted with the socially and culturally accepted methods of behavior as a means to escape from the struggle of everyday existence and the modern fight for survival.
The Standard American Diet and lifestyle, in particular, has simplified and encouraged productivity in some areas of modern life, but complicated other areas with unhealthy eating habits, sickness, disease, and sedentary behavior, which generates a lower quality of life for millions of people that are unable to escape from the biological patterns of our past in the modern world. The Standard American Diet (S.A.D), perfected by the United States and spread across the planet to other countries as an aspect of the evolution and dissemination of American Democracy, consists of the high consumption and overindulgence of fast and frozen food; large and supersize food portions; red meat, factory-farmed meat, and processed meat (now labeled as a carcinogen in the same category as cigarettes); pre-packed and fried foods; butter, high-fat dairy products, and trans-fat, which increases bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol levels in the body; added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, candy, and sugary drinks; foods shot up with artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, additives, hormones, and antibiotics; bread, grains, and high-carbohydrate foods; high calorie and low-nutrient density foods.
An American diet that consists primarily of these unhealthy non-food items, creates an internal environment that actively attempts to harm the body and do damage to cells and vital organs. Unhealthy foods are often fast and cheap in the short run, but with the prolonged and excessive consumption of them brings weight gain, a lower standard of living, more costly medical bills, missed work and school days, illness, diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
The industrial revolution and the assembly line brought along the Standard American Diet with the introduction of factory food to factory people. In order to compete on the global stage, the United States sought new ways to increase the amount of labor and productivity that the American workforce generated. Living an active and healthy lifestyle with exercise, proper food preparation and consumption in the home requires time and energy, two things that interfere with productivity and growth in the American economy. To subvert these two barriers, the United States government and the corporations that run the country found increasingly devious ways to trick and encourage American culture to spend less time preparing food and more time at work, making money to purchase the food that they have less time to make.
With the advent of fast and frozen food and foods stuffed with preservatives and added sugar to protect flavor and prolong shelf life, the average human being in the United States transformed from a unique and individual person, to a cog in the powerful and relentless American profit machine. When a person is treated as a piece of and not a member of the whole interconnected system, their individual health, happiness, and wellbeing can be shunned from social significance without the moral and ethical worries of our past tribal life and evolutionarily adapted desire for community and protection. The efficient effectiveness of the Standard American Diet and Lifestyle benefits those that control the system but harms those that are trapped within it with a lower quality of life, less time for exercise and sleep, sickness, disease, and premature death.
There is a 100 percent chance that living an entire lifetime of the Standard American Diet will lead to premature death. The Standard American Diet causes many health issues, like insulin resistance (glucose/sugar resistance), to develop, which occurs when glucose levels are elevated all over the body, building up in the blood. When this occurs, the energy that is normally readily available becomes stored in fat cells. Insulin resistance increases your risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
The Standard American Diet also increases inflammation in the body, which weakens the immune system and causes the body to become more susceptible to infections and diseases. Inflammation is the bodies defense mechanism against injury, foreign pathogens, viruses, and harmful bacteria; when our bodies fight off these invaders, it causes damage to blood vessels, redness of the skin, tiredness and exhaustion, joint pain and stiffness, muscle tightness, general sickness, and organ failure if the inflammation persists for long enough.
Many Americans living with chronic or acute inflammation are unaware of the symptoms, and instead, associate their illness with some other disease or attribute their overall weakness, tiredness, and lack of energy to their regular mood and general energy level. When peering deeper into the American diet and lifestyle, it becomes clear that the standards of our cultural habits of food consumption and lack of exercise are two of the biggest contributors to our mental and physical health, and overall happiness and wellbeing. Refined and processed foods lack vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, leaving consumers of them unsatisfied, requiring them to eat more in order for the body to reach fullness. Relying on the food in the Standard American Diet has created generations of unhealthy, inactive, vitamin, nutrient and mineral deficient zombies that lack the energy to maintain a healthy and balanced state of consciousness.
The Standard American Diet and Lifestyle is a direct contradiction to our hunter-gatherer ancestors who fasted for long periods and exerted massive amounts of energy to catch their food and survive; a contradiction to our evolutionary adapted DNA makeup and our biological desire for whole foods, high-nutrient dense foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, poultry, lean meat. Compared to hunter-gatherers, the Standard American Diet and sociocultural lifestyle is a plague, a virus, and disease that eats away at the core of our humanness, reduces the planet’s resources, and pollutes the entire ecosystem for the sole purpose of profiting and corporations that make the decisions in public policy, and the politicians that allow the destruction to occur on a more massive scale.
Blaming obesity on family genetic history is a convenient excuse that removes a certain level of personal responsibility. The obesity epidemic is associated much more with the biological makeup of the human body crafted over many thousands of years, not just particular family genetics in recent years. Our environment is different today, but our bodies are still operating on Hunter-Gatherer 1.0, in the forests and jungles of our ancient ancestors that suffered through long periods of starvation and abundance of food, depending on their crop harvest and hunting success. This uncertainty of where and when our food would come required that our bodies adapt to ensure the greatest chance of survival in these dangerous and volatile environments with food scarcity and lack of constant nutrition. For this reason, the human body- our bodies- perfected biological mechanisms to store food high in energy density, like fat and sugar, in order to be used during times of starvation.
Obesity is a symptom of American society and culture and a side effect of food addiction. In order to solve the obesity epidemic, we first need to solve the problem that lies at the root of American culture by addressing:
- Human happiness and fulfillment; why we eat what we eat knowing of its harmful and deadly effects (the dopamine rush from food is worth it for many people, like the rush from tobacco consumption, even when smokers know that their actions are a direct threat to their health).
- Our lack of physical exercise, why it is not important for most Americans to remain physically active.
- The amount of time we put in at work and in traffic and whether or not that is more important than living a healthy lifestyle.
- The unhealthy environment around us.
- The marketing of unhealthy food to kids and adults.
- Subsidizing unhealthy food crops that contribute to obesity (corn syrup, cow milk, and grains).
- Mood disorders, like depression, that leads people to food as a source of comfort.
- People that are too poor to afford healthier food options or live in too dangerous a neighborhood to exercise outside.
- Supersize fast-food portion sizes.
- The American capitalist ethic of profit at all costs, even to human and planetary health.
- Our motivation and willingness to put in the work to take care of our minds and bodies in the long term, over the short-term, immediate mouth pleasure that sugary and unhealthy foods provide us with.
In order for these changes to occur, the United States needs a systemic lifestyle reset that transforms our views on and attitudes about diet, sleep, and exercise. Part 2