The obesity epidemic is growing at a rapid rate, and it is affecting people all over the globe. Obesity has become the direct link to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and in worst cases, death. Obesity is defined as “a state of excess adiposity that presents a risk to health such as increased risk of chronic diseases ... and is the consequence of sustained positive energy balance over time.” Obesity rates have been progressively increasing within the last thirty years, with a worldwide prevalence that nearly doubled between 1980 and 2014. In fact, in 2014, there were 41 million overweight and obese children under age 5 years in the world, which is approximately 10 million more than just two decades ago. Throughout the last few decades, the same question still stands: is the obesity epidemic a result of excess calorie intake, or is it the result of decreased physical activity?
Various studies have shown that weight gain in the American population seems to be primarily due to the excessive consumption of calories, and that changes in physical activity play a minimal role. In my opinion as a future Registered Dietitian, it is not so much the amount of calories, but the nutritional content of the calories you are consuming which will make a difference in weight. For example, eating 500 calories from fat will affect the body differently than 500 calories from protein. Therefore, you must be mindful about the type of calories you are eating, rather than the amount of calories you are consuming each day.
In my opinion, the rise in obesity is linked to the increased consumption of highly processed, high saturated and trans fat foods in conjunction with a reduction of physical activity. Because obesity is a major risk factor for various fatal diseases, Americans should focus on a well-balanced diet along with avoiding sedentary behavior.
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