Americans don’t exercise enough, but even if we did, we’d still face the current obesity epidemic. We have been exercising for years, and we love creating new ways to exercise. We invented gyms, popularized marathons, created the at-home exercise culture, and with Crossfit, Tough Mudder, and P90X, we continue to create new ways to exercise. Sports remain an integral part of the American education, and the America’s fitness industry continues to be far larger than that of any other country.viagra
There’s an epidemic of weight gain even among those who exercise.
One third of triathletes are overweight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , 22% of overweight people meet the guidelines for aerobic activity - 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise – each week. That is a lot of people doing a lot of exercising. If exercise were effective, far more people would be losing weight each year.
Diet – not activity – is the most important factor determining our weight.
While we live in an obesogenic environment, and the causes of weight gain are many, but one major component is within our control: what we eat and how much of it. Sure, microplastics in our environment disrupt our endocrine systems and make us hungrier. Yes, genetics play a role. And of course stress, sleep, hormonal changes and even some viruses contribute to weight gain, but the impact of those likely pales in comparison to our diet.
We’re fat because our culture of innovation extends beyond sports, technology and banking, to include innovation in food. The foods we eat today are radically different from what we ate 40 years ago, with special emphasis on three factors: cheap, omnipresent meat and cheap, omnipresent sugar. Thanks to these two ubiquitous ingredients, one in three Americans over age 18 is diabetic or prediabetic.
We eat way too much meat.
We don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.
Our grandparents ate meat and sugar and lots of carbs and didn’t get fat because they ate less of all of these things than we do today. People around the planet, and especially in America, eat more than ever.
Exercise is not the answer.
The only way to consistently lose weight and keep it off is to dramatically reduce the amount of meat and refined sugar in our diet. Eat the normal American diet, and you’ll struggle to keep off the weight, despite all your exercising. Exercise has countless benefits, but weight loss is not among them.
People who eat exclusively vegetarian (vegans) are the only diet group in America who are not overweight.
Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and grains like quinoa. Avoid added sugars and processed food and, to maintain heart health and reduce cancer risk, minimize meat consumption. If cost is an issue, eat lots of beans and sweet potato – foods that are cheap, abundant and healthy.
Our food environment is caused by bad policy.
Much of this comes down to policy. The US’s federal Farm Bill subsidizes production of the worst foods: milk, meat and corn (bad for its use in corn syrup production). In Mexico, where Coca-Cola routinely has better access to water than locals, soda is cheaper and more available than clean water.
As a result, convenience stores offer $1.99 specials for soda and chips, but a salad will cost $7.00. Many places in the country don’t even carry fresh produce, and generations of overworked and underpaid Americans no longer have the knowledge, time, or skills to cook.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Low cost, nourishing food is available. Water, sweet potatoes, beans and leafy greens are widely available and relatively low cost. We just have to train ourselves and our families to look past sweet and savory foods as our go-to meals. We can all do it.