Obesity continues to be one of the most common health problems in America. The Centers for Disease Control define obesity as having a body mass index of 30 or more. According to CDC research, 35.7 percent of adults and 17 percent of children can be considered obese. The new healthcare law that is being phased in called the Affordable Care Act allows health insurers to charge those who are obese higher premiums or deny them coverage based on classifying obesity as a pre-existing condition. This provision of the bill has some experts concerned that a high percentage of lower-income Americans may be penalized for obesity and may not be able to afford health insurance.

Is It My Fault I Am Fat?

At the basis of this argument is the question of whether obesity is a condition over which the patient has control. While many people instantly answer “yes” to this question, the real answer is not as simple as it may first appear.

In the past when we all ate the same food prepared with the same ingredients, those who were heavier probably did eat a larger quantity of food. However, with today’s highly-processed and refined foods, the simple fact is that even people who do not eat very much may still have weight problems.

Another thing contributing to the obesity epidemic is the fact that most of us have very sedentary jobs compared to a generation ago. Sitting in front of a computer screen all day does little to give our bodies the exercise we need, and many office workers quickly develop weight problems.

Finally, our own body chemistry may work against us. Some people simply put on weight more easily than others or burn food at a slower rate.

While all of these facts may point to the idea that we are not to blame for our weight gain, we are still responsible for taking steps to reduce excess weight. There are ways to reduce your weight safely and effectively, but they require you to take control of your eating and exercise habits and implement new ones on a consistent basis.

Losing Weight: A National Epidemic

One of the problems with losing weight today is that there are many people and companies selling hype with little to no substance in the diet industry. According to one report, Americans spend $40 billion per year on diet products with little to nothing to show for it. This may be because most diet programs promise something that is impossible to deliver: nearly-instant weight loss with little to no effort on the part of the dieter.

The fact is that most diets simply do not work. While they may provide some initial weight loss, most people do not maintain this weight loss even for one year after going off a diet. The underlying problem is that diets attempt to impose restrictions on eating that cannot be sustained, such as cutting out sugar or starch permanently or limiting food choices to just a few items. Many diets also do not promote healthy exercise, a key to maintaining healthy weight.

What Works When It Comes To Weight Loss?

Ironically, weight loss is not very complicated, but it does require long-term, consistent changes. Making these changes is difficult at first but if the person continues to implement these changes, he or she will definitely lose weight and have a much better chance of keeping the weight off.

Mathematically, any time a person takes in fewer calories than he or she burns weight loss results. However, the process of losing weight in a healthy and successful way involves more than simply cutting calories. Here are a few features of a healthy weight-loss eating plan. As you review diets, ask yourself if the diet meets these criteria:

  • Good diets allow you to eat a wide variety of foods, including all the major macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fiber
  • Good diets do not reduce calories to less than 1200 per day, the minimum necessary for good nutrition
  • Good diets incorporate fresh, whole foods without processing such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products
  • Good diets are sustainable. They allow for “treats” including foods with sugar, fat or starch but limit these foods to very occasional consumption
  • Good diets pay attention to portion control. Large portions are one of the main reasons for weight gain in our society
  • Good diets incorporate at least 30 minutes of heart-healthy activity every day.

If you want to lose weight, there are good programs that can help you. Start by talking to your doctor about your particular weight loss needs, set a small goal to start, and begin your journey to a healthier body.