Reshaping America by embracing the truth about obesity

The World Health Organization predicts that being overweight and obesity may soon replace more traditional public health concerns. Photo: Ron Edmonds / AP file

SAN DIEGO, July 29, 2013 — As you go about your daily life, whether working, shopping, or commuting, it would be difficult to overlook the growing presence of those who are obese. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is growing into a national trend.

According to NPR’s “Pounding Away at America’s Obesity Epidemic,” one third of Americans are obese; another third are overweight.

The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that being overweight and obesity may soon replace more traditional public health concerns.

“In our society, in which obesity is considered a sign of the person’s lack of self-discipline or self-respect, or a manifestation of self-loathing, it is rare to encounter people who are called obese but feel happy about their bodies,” cited in “Should Obesity Be Called a Mental Illness,” published in Psychology Today.

According to clinical reviews published in the 2012 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, obesity may be defined as, “a complex interplay of neurobiological, psychological, and socioeconomic factors.”

Americans are changing the way in which they eat, moving away from the traditional family table meals to more frequent on-the-go meals. This means they frequently miss out on the fundamental pleasure of shared mealtimes. This can also create the need to pick up snacks and meals wherever available. This unplanned nature of diets and the lack of needed socialization and personal bonding can, at times, lead to poor food choices and emotional eating.

Rob Griffith / AP

Busier lives also provide less opportunity for exercise.

Being obese could possibly become a barrier to your overall success, impacting all aspects of your life.

Societal pressures come in many forms, including members of our own family, friends, associates, and others considered role models.

With the costs of diseases correlating to obesity on the rise, it would seem prudent to balance an individual’s right to choose obesity with the public good, recognizing the financial and other costs to our society.

Obesity increases the instances of Type II diabetes, cancer, arthritis, cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, risk of debilitation, and untimely death, resulting in higher health care costs. According to Dr. Kelly Burnell of Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, health care costs related to weight issues are now at $150 billion a year.

In addition to the financial costs of obesity are the human costs of illness, suffering diminished socialization, greater dependency on help to accomplish basic tasks and the activities of daily living, and decreased contribution as an active and productive member of society.

To find out if you are obese, or to what extent you might be over-weight, see the following guidelines, established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.”

-Prevent and/or reduce over-weight and obesity through improved eating and physical activity behaviors.

-Control total calorie intake to manage body weight. Consuming fewer calories from food and beverages.

-Increased physical activity and reduce time spend in sedentary activities.

-Maintain appropriate calorie balance during each stage of life—childhood, adolescence adulthood, pregnancy and breast feeding, and older age.

Calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI) is easy and fast. It helps you discover how appropriate your overall weight is for your height, and what new direction you may wish to go if needed. Their guidelines are realistic and easy to understand. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute publish their BMI index measure at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm. This wonderful site is one of the top rated sites used for Google searches, and comes in Spanish, and with an application for cell phone uploads.

Within each of us lies the power to make healthier choices, no matter how difficult it might seem. Your willingness to explore possibilities for improving your overall health, while learning new behaviors, is readily available and entirely up to you.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities” columnist since 2011, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.

In addition to writing for “Communities,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.

Copyright © 2013 by At Your Home Familycare


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Laurie Edwards-Tate

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today.

Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top  Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service.  Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home.

Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. 

 Follow Laurie and AYHF  at www.atyourhomefamilycare.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/atyourhomefamilycare, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare

Contact Laurie Edwards-Tate

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