America is one of the richest countries in the world. With so much wealth, ingenuity and technology, it's expected that America would also be one of the healthiest. Sadly, however, Americans are some of the unhealthiest people in the world.
Obesity is one of the main culprits for this physiological downward spiral. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a staggering 33 percent of American adults are obese.
Being significantly overweight increases a person's risk of a number of life threatening conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and some types of cancer. Obesity-related deaths have climbed to more than 300,000 a year, second only to tobacco-related deaths.
What's the cause of this worrisome national trend? Apparently it's the American diet and lifestyle. Families today lead very hectic lives, constantly on the go. The ease and flavor of high-fat, fast-food lunches and microwavable dinners have lured Americans into sacrificing health for time and taste.
This national epidemic has taken such a toll that state and federal governments are trying to curb its progress by providing educational information and motivational incentive to encourage Americans to reduce their weight. But it's not an easy task.
Consider these facts provided by the Bariatric Center of Terre Haute. One out of three Americans are obese. Fifteen percent of US children, age 15-19, are overweight. It takes five minutes to consume a 500- calorie meal but two vigorous hours of exercise to burn them off. One-fourth of all vegetables eaten in the United States is french fries. The next generation of Americans may be the first to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
Losing weight is difficult. Even when rigorous dieting leads to a significant weight loss, those pounds are often quickly regained when the dieter resumes his or her previous eating habits. Nutritionists and most weight loss advocates say a lifestyle change is the only way to keep weight off.
That's a mindset which is difficult for most overweight Americans to live with. Since the industrial revolution and the technology boom, it appears that food has become the primary emotional core of pleasure for many Americans.
Most gatherings center around food, whether it's at home, church or the office. Americans celebrate with food. They eat when they're sad, depressed or feel inconsequential. Food has become the national analgesic.
After repeated attempts to lose weight are met with failure and weight takes on life-altering and even life-threatening proportions, many Americans are embracing a drastic measure to drop that unhealthy adipose tissue: bariatric surgery.