No matter how accepting we are of one another’s bodies, the fact remains that there are some serious health concerns that come along with being overweight.
Not every person who is “obese” based on the outdated and over-relied upon BMI chart is unhealthy.
Some people are “overweight” but fitter than a person who weighs on the lower end of their “ideal” range, in fact – but doctors agree that issues like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and others are on the rise because of unhealthy lifestyle choices in the United States.
How, then, can we help to start to heal the issue? Here are 14 suggestions!
1. It’s ok to be hungry.
People should really learn that feeling hunger doesn’t mean “I HAVE TO EAT RIGHT THE F**K NOW!”
Hard to do when they grew up in a house stuffed with snacks and food and every time they felt the slightest bit of hunger they immediately ate something.
Normal hunger isn’t a “CRITICAL PRIORITY ALPHA-1 EMERGENCY ALERT!”. It’s just a “Notification: Stomach contents successfully sent to guts for processing”.
But many people have never gotten past this point so their brain thinks it’s the “STARVING TO DEATH” alarm.
2. Good luck with that.
Processed food standards need to change. Less sugar and salt. Stop making sodas so cheap. The real cost of sugary soda is the health problems we have. Fast food needs to have options that taste good.
Stop advertising fast food like they stopped advertising cigarettes.
3. Don’t eat until you’re stuffed.
My family came from other countries, so are used to eating smaller sized meals. Therefore cooked me regular normal sized meals. My partner, who’s family is wholly American, grew up eating much larger portions.
He has always eaten until stuffed, while I have always eaten until satiated, but not stuffed. He is learning and I’m proud!! I want him to be healthy and live for forever with me, but that’s hard when you don’t portion control.
4. A bold move.
Stop subsidizing corn.
This is literally the biggest move the government could make. They wouldn’t even need to eliminate every corn subsidy (though they should); they could just make any corn which has an end product intended for human consumption and/or that is human grade ineligible for subsidy.
The US has the highest per-capita consumption of HFC of any country. It is sweeter and more addictive than sugar. Even if HFC is not objectively worse than the same amount of sugar, the issue is that HFC is so cheap to make that it gets put in everything, specifically so that people get addicted.
There’s a reason so many Europeans say American candy is sickeningly, offputtingly sweet. If we stopped subsidizing HFC, it would likely lower its overwhelming presence in our foods, which could help our obesity rates.
5. Don’t force your kids to clean their plate.
Yeah. People literally train their kids to not understand when they are full by enforcing “clean plate club,” then plonk down adult sized portions in front of them. They act like not force feeding their children until they’re sick is some kind of trick. If you don’t pork yourself full at every opportunity and lick the plate, people groan in concern that you’re “sick.”
I know people who get so frustrated that they can’t lose weight when they only eat healthy. “I eat baked salmon, brown rice, and steamed broccoli every night!” But fail to notice that it’s a heap of rice, a mountain of broccoli, and a full pound filet of fish. Just because food is nutritious does not mean it has zero calories and you can eat an infinite amount and still lose weight.
There are systemic problems with this too. You can’t get food from a restaurant without being served a mountain, and generally, people will comment if you don’t eat the bulk of it.
6. So many things we could do.
There are probably at least a dozen things that would help. One that comes to mind is investing more substantially in public infrastructure toward the objective of making more places ‘walkable’ would be a step in the right direction.
Better public transport, more parks and open spaces, better bike paths, better walking paths (including more trees planted for shade) and just city beautification in general that encourages people to want to get out and move around more.
The more walkable cities in the world tend to also have lower levels of obesity and again, there are a lot of factors here, this is just one thing, but it’s still a thing, and the thing about it is that it is so lateral to the problem that people get encouraged to do it (be more active) basically without even realizing it, it becomes a consequence of enjoying their area more.
7. That would be a big change.
Build/redesign neighborhoods and public spaces to be more accessible for walking and bike riding.
Terrible city zoning is the cause of sooooooo many problems.
8. Healthy choices.
There’s only one way to stop it.
Make healthy food cheap an easily accessible, and unhealthy food expensive and not easily accessible.
Also all schools should offer healthy lunches.
Honestly the rest is bullshit – because if you’re overworked, underpaid, depressed, and tired, you are going to opt for that 1 dollar burger instead of spending time, money, energy on a balanced meal.
9. Give people more time.
I think this hits the nail on the head.
I work a pretty physical job but not enough to actually lose weight doing it. By the time I actually get home I’m already sore and exhausted, the last thing I want to do is more exercise.
You’re also right about having very little time. I shower, do my laundry. Read mail/emails and respond, make and eat dinner. Not to mention I have to study for certain tests I need to take.
Add in that other people might be working while going to school it’s almost impossible to find any time to really do anything healthy.
10. We don’t need to eat all that much.
Not entirely sure but what has become apparent to me is that the average westerner (I’m from NY, btw) has no idea that they can get by just fine on substantially less food than they think they can.
They’re just not used to it.
11. We need time to prepare our meals.
Yup my epi professor said that the number one thing to contribute is the drive thru window because of how busy everyone is.
If it wasn’t a thing most people would have more groceries at home or meals precooked etc. which like you said can be difficult
12. Read the labels.
Serving sizes just aren’t a thing to people who aren’t paying attention. Just fill up the plate! Get seconds if it’s tasty.
I’ve noticed that when people get a normal size portion at a restaurant here, they usually have a fit. Meanwhile, enormous portions are praised in the reviews.
Everyone is saying “fast food”, but a lot of fast food isn’t that terribly calorie-dense until you pair it with a large fries and a large coke and a pie. It’s not the food itself (though it is definitely not nearly as healthy as home cooked food), but the portions of it.
13. The healthy food costs more.
On top of that, healthy food is often expensive. Subsidize fruits and make crisps more expensive so poor people can afford more healthy stuff, and people will be more healthy.
Next, cities are laid out for cars only. Build and redesign them to be nice to bike and walk in and people are more likely to do so and be more healthy.
14. We need more downtime.
Let me start by saying I don’t think this the main issue but I do think it is part of it.
People work from 8-9 to 4-5 maybe later. Then add on a 1 hour for their commute. People only have 4-5 hours for themselves. That’s if they don’t have kids or another job.
Exercise and cooking healthy meals take time. Some people may not prioritize them or may not have enough energy to at the end of the day.
So in my opinion part of the solution would be to give people more time/ a shorter work day or week.
15. We probably wouldn’t even notice.
I just read that a proposed FDA regulation to lower “added sugars” in processed foods would save millions of lives thru reduced disease and lower obesity rates.
Lobbyists will pay to have it killed so fast your head will spin.
16. Night shift workers have it even harder.
My so works in health care and a big problem 3rd shift workers have is that nothing is open except convenience stores. So snacks consist of processed sugar bread products.
To combat this, precovid, they would have pot lock every damn weekend and half of the people would pick up bakery items making the potluck various sugar breads.
My so does seem to get in a ton of walking during the day and will frequently get in 12k steps, so it helps a bit. It’s better than my office jobs 500, steps per day walking to the bathroom.
Nurses seem to have a pretty high obesity rate, smoking rate and alcoholic rate considering they probably tell their patients all those things are bad for you.
17. So much sugar.
Get rid of the insane amount of sugar in everything.
This, the biggest culprit is pop/soda/coke/fizzy-drinks, even when people go on “”diets”” they still down liters of the stuff. Meaning any energy expended comes from the masses of sugar and not their fat reserves.
Which in turn is why you get people bemoaning not losing weight even though they’re only eating salad or w/e.
The big corn syrup takeover in the American food market is the worst thing to happen to American health.
18. Stop paving paradise.
Also, more green space with walking areas.
Green space is good for mental health, and nicer to walk in than a streetside beside stinky cars
19. Probably the easiest way for sure.
Jon Stewart has a bit like this in America: The Book.
It goes something like, “America will realize that it’s easier to change standards of beauty than lose weight.”
20. We’re honestly wiped.
Mental energy is a HUGE factor.
There was a study that showed people whose cognitive resources are drained end up making worse decisions about food than people who still have some gas in the tank.
The experiment went something like giving people a memory test. One group had to memorize just two digits, the other group had to memorize seven digits. They then offered each group a snack in the middle of the experiment (cake and fruit), but the snack itself was part of the experiment. They found that statistically speaking, the people who had to memorize seven digits went for cake with higher frequency than people who just had to memorize two digits.
Burning cognitive resources even on fairly simple tasks, can make it challenging for some people to make healthy choices for themselves.
I’m all in favor of a shorter workday. 4 day work-week would be nice, but we all know that companies would just push people to work 10 hour shifts instead of 8 hour shifts anyway. I’d rather just have 6 hour workdays five days/week. Getting an extra 2 hours back each day would be a huge help.
21. I mean…
Start by spreading a rumour that the libs are putting vaccines and microchips in high fructose corn syrup. Then have the president describe that rumour as a ridiculous conspiracy as daft as suggesting the election was stolen.
That should help.
22. There’s no magic answer.
Ultimately life shouldn’t be like this.
Its hard enough to change years of bad habits and lifestyle even if you have unlimited time. We simply need to look at our labor force differently and not allow people to become so rich and so poor. Its not going to magically get better.
Factories that once needed hundreds now operate with a team of 50 and in 10 years it’ll be 5 its not going to stop.
23. Education is key.
Eliminate the excessive addition of high fructose corn syrup to near every product sold here.
Education about dietary needs, planning meals and eating healthy on a budget in public schools.
Make gym class less humiliating and more fun, embarrassment is often the highlight of gym class for fat kids and it discourages them from getting the exercise that would help them the most.
24. The suburbs are killing us.
Car centric city design. When you have to drive for work, drive to the store, drive to drop your kids off, all you end up doing is sitting on your butt. Say you somehow find the time to exercise, now you either drive to the park to run or drive to the gym. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to bike to work (in the past, from home now, even pre-pandemic), bike to drop off the kids and walk to park areas, and it has really changed my quality of life.
But to do this, we have to be willing to make sacrifices, more dense cities, smaller houses, not cities catering to big box stores with giant parking lots over smaller stores that front the street in a dense shopping center. It really won’t happen on a broad scale in America because people are so accustomed to the things that are making them miserable that they fight change tooth and nail.
I truly believe it is life changing to be able to move and live life in your city without a car and people would be shocked at how happy they are when they are free to move more in their daily life.
25. Make exercise great again.
They realized all us “fat” kids signed up for the “walking” PE class in high school and changed the class to what us kids called “fat camp” instead.
PE needs to be more focused on exercise for fun and health into life, not rules of various sportsball games or running until everyone who doesn’t do cross country is miserable.
I would have loved to see more options available to kids that are seen in the adult gym world (zumba, cycling, tai chi and yoga come to mind) so that when they graduate they can go continue doing what they enjoyed instead of hating anything that resembles PE.
26. Safety and money both play a role.
I never want to live somewhere where you need a car again.
Then the issue becomes affordability. My wife and I lived in Chicago until recently (I’m talking like a week ago) and enjoyed it there. But then we had a family and wanted more space. So now we get to play the “pick two of three” game between Affordable, Space, Safety.
The places we could afford and had good space weren’t in the safest areas.
The places we could afford and were in safe areas didn’t have enough space.
The places with the space and safety just weren’t affordable.
I think for a lot of people city life isn’t sustainable as their family grows because of price. There is a reason why the “20somethings who turn into 30somethings with kids leave the city and move to the burbs” trope exists.
If you’re a single person or a couple of adults who want to stay in the city then it’s definitely possible but once you have kids it just gets tough for most.
27. Less is more.
Stop over processing food. Sell/buy/eat smaller quantities of higher quality food. Teach cooking in school.
Should also include education about diets, meal planning and budget.
That being said, my friend buys peeled potatoes. People do be lazy…
28. Things aren’t getting better.
The expectations we’re under we’re set for single income homes with a spouse to maintain the home.
That allowed more time for leisure, exercise, kids, etc. And there still wasn’t enough time in the day then. I’m not saying we go back to 1950’s Housewives so much as just…
Make it so a single income can support a home. Or make communal living normal and legal and bearable. Or something.
I mean, we have to start somewhere, right?
If you have an idea we didn’t mention, drop it in the comments!