In the United States and around the globe, obesity is becoming increasingly common. Far from an isolated problem, obesity leads to a wide range of health risks that can severely affect quality of life. Get the facts on obesity and learn how you can take steps to battle this serious health condition with a calorie counter and a healthy eating plan.
Over a third of American adults now have obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reports that 36.5 percent suffer from this condition. This rate has climbed by about 7 percent over the past 15 years, reflecting a gradual but notable increase.
While people from all types of backgrounds have obesity, this condition affects some people more than others. Although there are no notable differences between the rates of obesity among men and women, adults who are middle-aged and older have higher rates of obesity than younger adults do. While those from Asian backgrounds tend to have the lowest rates of obesity, this condition is most prevalent among non-Hispanic black adults, among whom over 48 percent have obesity.
In addition, socioeconomic status appears to have an effect on obesity rates. For men, higher earners have higher obesity rates. For women, the opposite is true, as low-income women have higher rates of obesity than high-income women. In addition, women who hold college degrees have reduced rates of obesity.
Body mass index (BMI), a comparison of height to weight, determines obesity. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese, but obesity is much more than a weight problem. The related health risks range from high blood pressure and heart disease to stroke and type 2 diabetes. The CDC reports that obesity can lead to a higher risk of developing colon, breast, and kidney cancer, and it can also lead to clinical depression and anxiety. Obesity can even cause chronic pain, sleep apnea, breathing issues, and difficulty with basic physical functions.
Some of the consequences of obesity go beyond physical and mental health, too. Since obesity-related issues can be expensive to treat, health care costs can lead to high medical bills and financial problems.
It’s important to note that obesity is a complex health issue to which preexisting medical conditions and surrounding communities and environments can contribute. However, individual behaviors and dietary choices are major factors for obesity. That means the quality and quantity of the food you eat can have a substantial impact on your ability to maintain good health.
To reach or sustain a healthy weight, you need a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity. As a rule of thumb, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) recommends only consuming as many calories as you need and obtaining your calories from nutrient-dense foods, such as whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fresh produce, lean meats, and nuts and seeds. To optimize your health, you’ll also want to avoid sodium-rich foods, solid fats, and added sugars.
While these recommendations might sound simple, it’s easy to get off track if your busy schedule prevents you from shopping for nutritious foods regularly, preparing healthy meals on a daily basis, or finding time for regular physical activity. If you have limited experience assessing your caloric needs or creating healthy meal plans, you might also find it challenging to develop dietary patterns that will help you sustain good health for the long term. That might mean you rely heavily on junk or convenience foods, lead a relatively sedentary life, and put yourself at higher risk of becoming overweight or obese.
Whether you’re short on time or you need to learn more about healthy diets, tracking what you eat can help. A food diary can be as detailed or as basic as you need it to be, including anything from simple notes on what you ate for each meal to ingredient lists and calorie and macronutrient calculations for each dish. Why not try Lifesum’s recipe calorie counter which allows you to track recipes with a tap of your finger? Pick and choose from thousands of pre-added recipes when you’re low on inspiration or add your own favourite dish for easy tracking at a later time.
While keeping a detailed food diary might seem like a time-consuming proposition, it’s one that can have a substantial impact on your health, especially if you want to lose weight and minimize obesity risks. In fact, a Kaiser Permanente study showed that maintaining a food diary doubled the amount of weight that participants lost, and those who dropped the greatest number of pounds kept the most records of what they ate.
Researchers concluded that the simple act of recording what you eat prompts you to reflect on what you’re consuming and what kinds of habits you’re developing. As you become more aware of what you eat and how much you consume, you might be inspired to develop a healthier lifestyle and maintain a healthy target weight.
Although you can certainly keep a food diary the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, it’s easier and more effective to use a calorie counting app. Not only does a smartphone app allow you to make notes about your meals and snacks from virtually anywhere, it also offers tons of additional features. Select a meal or a snack from the app’s food library, and the app calculates the number of calories and subtracts it from your daily intake. Adjust your daily calorie count to ensure that you’re consuming the right amount of energy for your body type and lifestyle.
Great calorie counting apps can also track macronutrients, which include proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, as well as the dozens of vitamins and minerals you need to thrive. Many also include targeted meal plans to help you put together healthy meals. With this information at your fingertips, it’s easier to make healthy choices, opt for whole foods over junk foods, and stay on track toward maintaining a healthy weight.
The rate of obesity may be increasing, but you can take steps to minimize your risk of developing this condition. By keeping a food diary, counting calories, and staying active, you’ll stay in control over your dietary patterns and make healthier lifestyle choices.
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