6 Organizations that are Fighting Childhood Obesity

2 Weeks to Health is dedicated to encouraging public education regarding health and fitness. Our currently reach is minimal compared to some larger non-profits who have a larger reach for stopping obesity. This article points out just a few organizations that focus their efforts at least partly on childhood obesity prevention and reduction. I encourage everyone to check them out and donate your time or money as you see fit. It will take more than a village to make a cultural change in how we eat and view our health, and these organizations are just part of the 2 Weeks to Health mission to encourage, education, and exercise.

Obesity Action Coalition http://www.obesityaction.org/

Campaign to End Obesity http://www.obesitycampaign.org/

National Childhood Obesity Foundation http://www.ncof.org/

Choices: Fighting Childhood Obesity http://www.choicesforkids.org/

World Obesity http://www.worldobesity.org/

Alliance for a Healthier Generation https://www.healthiergeneration.org/

Do you know any other organizations that are fighting obesity, small or large? Please comment below.

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Health Effects of Being Overweight or Obese

In June 2017 an article by the New England Journal of Medicine was released analyzing the health risks of obese and overweight individuals in 195 countries over 25 years. Here are the major conclusions of that study:

  • There is probable evidence that being overweight leads to 20 different diseases including back pain, several types of cancers, stroke, heart disease, hypertension, and osteoarthritis
  • The lowest overall risk of death was observed for a BMI of 20 to 25. Click here to determine your BMI.
  • Globally, 5% of children and 12% of adults are obese. Obesity is generally higher in women than in men
  • The prevalence of obesity has doubled in 73 countries in the last few decades
  • In 2015, high BMI contributed to 4.0 million deaths globally with cardiovascular disease being the primary cause
  • High BMI also accounted for 28.6 million years lived with disability
  • From 1990 through 2015, there was a relative increase of 28.3% in the global rate of death related to high BMI
  • “The results show that both the prevalence and disease burden of high BMI are increasing globally. These findings highlight the need for implementation of multicomponent interventions to reduce the prevalence and disease burden of high BMI”

Global obesity is increasing and the evidence supporting the resultant diseases of obesity at this point are irrefutable. What do you think we can do as a community to help prevent the further increase in obesity rates and further disease? Comment below.

What is Obesity?

Obesity can be defined in many ways, but there is perhaps only one way we should look at it. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines obesity as “a condition characterized by the excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body” and can be measured using body mass index (BMI). Simply put, if you are carrying extra fat and you exceed the medical standard for how much you weigh for how tall you are, then you are by definition considered obese.

There are two common ways being diagnosed with obesity are received by the patient: shame and logic. Shame is a feeling of emotional pain and humiliation that comes with insecurity and the failure to live up to their own or someone else’s standards. If someone has lived their whole life believing and reassuring themselves that they are not obese and someone informs them that they meet the definition of an obese individual, it is common for them to feel ashamed. This action and subsequent feeling of shame have recently been called “fat shaming”. In recent years, showing concern for someone’s health by asking them to exercise with them or eat a healthy meal has been considered an elusive but hurtful way of fat shaming.

The other way a diagnosis of obesity can be received is with logic. Being diagnosed with obesity should be thought of the same way as any other disease and a prescription should be made for diet and exercise. The truth is obesity is a serious medical condition that has a built-in positive feedback loop of exacerbated disease. This means the worse your obesity is, the worse you will experience other types of disease. Obesity leads to hypertension, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, sleep disorders, cancer, atherosclerosis, and diabetes. It decreases your quality of life through decreased mobility and increased joint pain. Your medical bills will be higher thus you will have less money, and you are more likely to experience depression if you are obese.

So what is obesity? It is more than just an opportunity to fat shame, it is a medical diagnosis that is likely a significant limiting factor in the patient being able to live a happy and fulfilling life. It is more than just a definition of someone’s weight, it foreshadows the story of one’s life by predicting both physical and mental disease. When someone feels they have been shamed due to their weight, they reserve the right to feel ashamed, especially if there was malicious intent. However, we as a culture need to start seeing obesity as a treatable disease that when cured can significantly increase the quality of someone’s life.

To help combat the rising obesity epidemic we need to start making health and fitness part of our culture. To learn more about how we can do this, read The Grassroots Health Movement, an article about changing our nation’s culture one person at a time.

5 Surprising Reasons That May Prevent You From Losing Weight

2 Weeks to Health recently surveyed 226 people who have attempted to lose weight. Of the 226 people, 38% claimed they reached their weight goal and were able to keep the weight off for at least a year. The other 62% were unable to reach their goals and keep the weight off. 2 Weeks to Health analyzed the differences between those who were and were not successful and found 5 surprising methods that actually hurt your chances of reaching your weight loss goals. All of these methods have worked for many people under certain conditions, but based on our survey doing any one of these make you at least 10% less likely to achieve your weight loss goals.

1. Signing up for a gym membership

percentage-of-successful-weight-losers-that-had-a-gym-membership
Only 29% of people who successfully reached their weight goals had a gym membership.

We all know that there are tremendous benefits to buying a gym membership. However, our survey showed that you are 10% less likely to reach your weight loss goal if you have a gym membership. Only 29% of people who achieved their weight loss goals had a gym membership. Why is this? Usually one of the first things people will do when they decide to lose weight is to purchase a gym membership. Whether or not the gym membership is used is a different story. By just owning a gym membership, statistically you are less likely to lose weight, but consistently using what the gym has to offer will inevitably help your weight loss goals.

2. Going on a low-carb diet

Percentage-of-people-who-sucessfully-lost-weight-on-a-low-carb-diet
Out of everyone who successfully kept their weight off for a year, only 18% claimed to have lost weight using a low carbohydrate diet.

Besides purchasing a gym membership, when someone decides to lose weight they usually choose 1 of 2 diets, the low-carb diet or the low-calorie diet. The low-carb diet has become popularized by diets such as the Adkins diet, and are also on par with most ketogenic diets. While low-carb diets have been proven to help people lose weight, a crash low-carb diet is never sustainable. Our bodies and minds need energy from carbohydrates to function normally, which means people who lose weight on a low-carb diet are usually unable to keep it off for a full year. While many people would benefit from a reduction in how many carbs they eat, a strict low or no carb diet is usually unnecessary.

3. Going on a low-calorie diet

percentage-of-people-who-used-a-low-carlorie-diet
44% of people who were successful in losing weight used a low-calorie diet, while 55% of people who were unsuccessful used the same technique.

This is the one that surprised me the most. Out of everyone who attempted a low-calorie diet to lose weight, a higher percentage of the unsuccessful people tried this diet than the successful people. Overall, roughly half of people on a weight loss mission try this, but out of everyone who was successful, only 44% of the success stories incorporated a low-calorie diet. But how? Calories in, calories out, right? Well, yes, the basics of weight loss are that you must use more calories per day than you consume to lose weight, but you don’t particularly need to go on a strict low-calorie diet to achieve this. Instead of going on a low-calorie diet, you can try exercising more often and promising yourself that you remove soda and/or dessert from your diet. You can set a standard for yourself to eat only whole foods with plenty of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. It appears that most people who successfully lose weight and keep it off for a year don’t specify a low-calorie diet, but focus on eating good foods and exercising, which in return leads to a calorie deficit that leads to weight loss.

4. Being a woman

percentage-of-men-and-women-who-sucessfully-lost-weight
According to our recent survey, 62% of males achieve their weight loss goals and keep the weight off for a year while only 38% of women achieve their goals.

Almost 2 out of every 3 men who attempted to lose weight reported they were able to achieve their weight goal and keep their weight off for a year. Meanwhile, only 1 in every 3 women reported they were able to do the same. Unfortunately for women, human physiology makes it easier for men to lose weight than women. The average man has less body fat and more muscle than the average woman. This means the man’s metabolism is going to run faster than the woman’s, and the man will burn more calories. Men can naturally eat more and burn more calories than women, which means if you are a woman, you are automatically 33% less likely to reach your weight goals as compared to men.

 

5. Adopting a diet that requires a strict program such as Weight Watchers

Success-rate-of-weight-watchers

Compared to the successful group, the unsuccessful group was 10% more likely to attempt Weight Watchers to lose weight. Of those who tried Weight Watchers, only 19% were successful. Taking on a strict and quantitative meal and exercise plan like weight watchers may work for some, but the majority were unable to reach their weight loss goals using this plan.

 

These 5 reasons that may prevent you from losing weight can all be very useful for certain people in certain conditions and when used correctly. Next time you set a weight loss goal, ask yourself “does this work for me”. If the answer is no, then you have 2 options, change yourself or change your methods. While changing yourself by increasing your discipline and motivation is always a good option, it is even better to look at your methods for losing weight and ensure they are sustainable. Just because you bought a gym membership and put yourself on a diet does not mean you will see results, and based on statistics you are less likely to reach your goals. You must always put in the work and adapt your strategies to fit your needs.

The SAD Diet

The SAD diet is exactly how it sounds, sad. This diet has been proven to directly increase your chances of coronary heart disease, risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and has an overwhelmingly negative impact on our health. The SAD diet, also known as the ‘Standard American Diet’, is simply a representation of how the average American citizen eats.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is high in unhealthy saturated and hydrogenated fats, low in fiber, high in calories, high in processed foods, high in sugar, and low in plant-based foods.[i] Americans eat grossly too few vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, while refined grains, sugary beverages, frozen entrees, and sugar/candies are off the charts with consumption rates that are thousands of percentage points above the recommended USDA amount.[ii]

How did America get to the point where SAD is the norm? There are several theories behind why our diets have become so poor over the years, one being fast food prominence and marketing. In 2012, McDonalds alone spent 2.7 times as much on marketing than all fruit, vegetable, bottled water, and milk advertisers combined.[iii] Meanwhile, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion which is the USDA’s sub-agency to the American that promotes dietary guidelines to the public has a total budget of only 1% of McDonald’s advertising budget.[iv]  This fast food culture also brings us convenience that we otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s easier to grab a quick unhealthy meal than it is to take the time to plan and cool healthy foods. Some will also claim that unhealthier foods such as the $1 menu at many restaurants are cheaper than healthier alternatives which makes it a better option for less wealthy families.[v] While there is some truth to this, I believe this comes back to education considering I know how to make plenty of healthy meals on a very low budget.

Regardless of how it happened, the Standard American Diet is now roughly 63% processed foods, 25% animal foods, and 12% plant based foods, and sodium intakes are more than double the recommended daily value.[vi] The American diet has taken a complete 180 from the diet our body thrives on. How do we fix this? Fixing this starts with you choosing to eat real foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables. We can learn to eat healthy ourselves and then inspire others to do the same.

For the skeptics

I often enjoy answering questions on Quora, and when a question about the SAD diet was asked, one of the responses by a reputable source was that the SAD diet is “a straw man fantasy used by orthorexics to criticize the eating habits of those they deem to be inferior.” I wanted to talk about this a little bit. The definition of ‘orthorexia’ is the obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy, and this is often considered as a mental health disorder. If you take a straight macronutrients approach to health, then I can see this argument. Basically if you want to maintain your weight you can eat anything in moderation, and thus stay relatively healthy. The same person that posted this answer to the Quora question claimed to have lost 35 pounds while eating dessert everyday, which is possible but not recommended. His stance is simply the calories in calories out approach to health, which is great for weight control, but doesn’t account for the concerns my article discussed. He believes that no matter how you eat you can control your weight, which is true to an extent but still neglects to take into account health concerns outside of your weight. The Standard American Diet is what is used to explain the increase in medical conditions such as obesity and hypertension in the U.S., and has nothing to do with an obsession with healthy eating or inferiority. It is a causal relationship between societal health observations and nutritional studies, not us nutritionists looking at people who eat relatively poorly as inferior.

Author: Scott Van Hoy – Click Here to view the author’s profile

References

Obesity is Not Just a Health Issue – Things Worth Sharing

2 Weeks to Health predominately focuses on trying to get our readers on the path to a healthier life, but we have an underlying movement to try to reduce obesity one person at a time. Obesity not only affects the mental and physical health of individuals, but it also has security and economic outcomes. The amount we spend on healthcare can be greatly reduced if we all vow to live healthier lives. Imagine how much money we could save if we didn’t need to spend money on prescription medications, visits to the doctor, and other medical treatments. In this TEDx talk, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling discusses the effects of obesity on national security and the economy.

‘Things Worth Sharing’ is the portion of the website where I share interesting and useful health and fitness articles not written by 2 Weeks to Health. Nothing is advertised, everything is awesome.

The Grassroots Health Movement

Encourage, Educate, Exercise

In a study released by the CDC in 2015, almost 40 percent of American adults over the age of 20 are obese, while an additional 30 percent are overweight. This means 70% of Americans are putting themselves at a greater risk of developing diseases such as cardiovascular disease. With such a high number of us on the heavy side, I began wondering what kind of culture this is creating.

The American culture as a whole has begun to accept that being overweight is okay. With modern medicine being as advanced as it is, and most people holding jobs that do not require strenuous work, it has become culturally ok if someone wants to live their life in the 300-pound range. I understand that it is wrong to push people to change when they are not seeking change themselves, as it can make people feel uncomfortable. However, we need to begin to create a culture that fosters more people taking time out of their day to work on their health. I don’t think it will take government programs to bring down the overweight percentage from 70% to a lower level. Instead, it will take a cultural shift driven by us, the citizens.

In my recent article about a grassroots solution to obesity, I mentioned that words become action, and action becomes habits. To add onto that, collective habit becomes culture. Culture has a drastic effect on how a member of that culture behaves. Let’s look at the military as an example. When young men and women join the military, they are all within weight limits, but vary in their levels of fitness. Immediately from day one, military culture takes hold, and part of that culture includes daily workouts. Within a few months, someone who maybe has never worked out a day in their life may crank out 20 pull-ups at a time. The military culture drives soldiers to stay in shape, the same as the current American culture drives people to underestimate the importance of their health.

What does this culture look like in the office? Let’s say you are working in an office with 10 colleagues. Statistically, 4 of them will be obese, 3 of them will be overweight, 2 of them will have a healthy weight and exercise often, and 1 will be in great shape and work out regularly. Regardless of which one of these employees you are, you can take the same three steps to change your office’s culture to make it more healthy: Encourage, Educate, and Exercise.

Encourage: Any time one of your colleagues decides to make a healthy decision, offer positive feedback. If George decides to eat a salad instead of a burger, go to the park with his kids instead of a movie, or hit the gym after work, be friendly and say something “That’s awesome, I love going the park with my kids. It feels great getting out and stretching after sitting all day. Do you plan on making it a weekly thing?” This is a subtle encouragement for going to the park again, helping George stay active.

Educate: Learn and teach. Always try to learn more about how to live healthier, and spread your knowledge. If your colleagues enjoy bringing desserts into the office to share, try bringing in a kick butt sugar-free dish one day and see if anyone notices. Take small steps to show that healthier eating doesn’t mean you have to eat tofu for every meal. If the office likes to have a company outing every once in a while, volunteer to organize the next event and choose to do something active and fun like dodgeball. Show that exercise can be a lot of fun. Overall, share your knowledge in a non-intimidating way.

Exercise: This means set the example. To try to change the culture, get out and exercise, and try to eat healthy yourself. Don’t be like crossfitters and tell everyone every minute what you’re doing. When you’re looking good, eventually someone will mention it or ask for help, providing the opportunity to share your knowledge.

If everything goes well, encouraging, educating, and exercising will motivate a couple of your colleagues to start making some changes to live healthier. Now you might have 3, 4, or even 5 of your co-workers talking consistently about your health as common office talk. A culture of healthy living has begun to form.

It only takes one person to change the culture of a small group, but it takes time. As more small groups, families, or friends groups change their health culture, soon the collective American culture will begin to change, and the obesity percentage should begin to decrease. So be the change, start the movement toward better health, it only takes one to make a difference. You are the root of change.

National Obesity Epidemic Grassroots Solution

When I see a commercial for diet pills, diets that restrict the body of nutritional essentials, or programs that claim you can lose substantial weight in very short periods of time, I cringe. After watching friends and family fall into this trap over and over again without reaching their goals, I became tired of seeing them trying these temporary fixes and becoming frustrated that they didn’t work long term. For example, the Atkins diet. This diet wants to cut out carbs and increase protein consumption. Does it work? Yes, I’ve seen people lose weight from this diet. However, if you remove carbs from your diet, your body doesn’t have the energy it needs to properly function, making this diet short term. Then when the diet ends, the problem wasn’t fixed, and weight gets put back on.

In business school, students are taught to look for pain points and create and market products to alleviate the pain. So naturally, when the pain point is obesity, methods to lose weight quickly such as the Adkins diet will be very popular. However, this strategy doesn’t pass business ethics. Sticking with the Atkins diet example, if a middle-aged man with high blood pressure and high cholesterol adopts the high protein diet and only eats Pork and Beef for a month to lose weight, this could pose a serious health risk. Not only is he not getting proper nutrients or energy, but he is continually increasing his blood pressure and cholesterol. Then when he continues to eat poorly when off the diet, gains weight, and goes back on the Atkins diet a year later, his health will further decline. Pain point solved, right?

Wrong. Although profitable, the morality behind marketing products that are supposed to aid in weight loss, but instead can hurt one’s health is iffy. So what should the middle-aged man do to get his summer body? What he needs is a lifestyle change. He needs to eat healthier and exercise, it’s really that simple. The problem is he doesn’t know how to properly exercise or eat healthier, so he turns to what is marketed to him, which is far more convenient when he has a busy job and extensive social calendar.

Millions of Americans are in this position when it comes to weight loss. They are trying, but ultimately failing. Government leaders have created national movements and education programs to stop the obesity epidemic, but that often just translates to a few headlines about exercising more on NBC. So what can we do to stop obesity? The government isn’t making much headway, businesses are trying to sell product not solutions, and frankly, we as Americans are not doing much to help, especially with the “big is beautiful” campaigns. Big can be beautiful, that is until you get diabetes. Like many large movements, this needs to start at the grassroots level, within the culture of small communities. If more of us decide to learn about exercise and nutrition, then spread the word to our friends and families, slowly healthy living will become standard vocabulary. The more we talk about it, the more likely we are to take action. Then as we all start taking action to get ourselves, friends, and family out of obesity, then soon healthy living will be a habit.

So let’s start with helping one another, and before we know it we will make America healthy again.