The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report that an unprecedented nearly 40% of adults and 20% of teenagers inAmerica's obesity levels at  highest rate the U.S. are obese. Over 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. In other words, unhealthy weight has become the new normal; people with a healthy weight – a BMI of 25 or less – are now in the minority.  As being overweight becomes more common, fewer people are taking action. A recent study at Georgia Southern University found that fewer Americans, especially women, are trying to lose weight.

What are the Consequences of Obesity?

The effects of the obesity epidemic are troubling. Obesity causes high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. These not only kill millions of Americans every year, but Americans pay $190 billion in weight-related medical bills. Furthermore, childhood obesity is linked to a higher chance of early death in adulthood.

What Causes Obesity?

Public health experts say that an unhealthy diet and the lack of exercise are still the two biggest problems. In addition to unhealthy foods and a sedentary lifestyle, sleep deprivation is another possible culprit. According to the Institute of Medicine, 50-70 million people aren’t getting an adequate amount of sleep. Sleep-deprived people may be too tired to exercise and make unhealthy food choices because their body craves energy.

What can I do?

You don’t need to make a radical life change to combat obesity.

To improve your sleep, follow the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations:

To eat healthfully, get ideas from the American Heart Association’s site:

For physical health, start with movement.  You can burn calories by scattering a few moves throughout the day. No extra boot camp classes or supplements are necessary.

To burn 50 calories, take the stairs. Going upstairs for one minute burns 10 calories so aim to go up flights of steps five or more times a day. When you’re heating up your lunch, jog in place or do mountain climbers while the microwave is on.

To burn 100 calories, you’ll need about ten minutes. Make a separate trip from the car with each grocery bag. Do a minute or two of jumping jacks throughout the day.

To burn more calories, spend the first 15 minutes of your TV show doing moves that use your body weight – push-ups, lunges, leg lifts. On the weekend, walk to a coffee shop that is at least a mile away. Make a recurring date with a friend to walk, play tennis, or hike.

If your BMI is over 30, it’s best to talk to your doctor to customize a plan that’s right for you. Call (479) 582-9268 to set up an appointment with a Creekside Center physician.