Wednesday, April 11, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Obesity in Young Women

"The abundance of cheap food with low nutritional value in the Western diet has wreaked havoc on our health; in America, one third of children and two thirds of adults are overweight or obese and are more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease."
                                                                   --Ellen Gustafson

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When I travel, I love to watch people.  On a recent trip, I was acutely aware of how many young women were obese.  I saw women in their 20’s struggling to walk, sometimes struggling to breath.  Every one of these overweight and obese women wore more layers of clothes that anyone else, even in hot weather.  Whether it was shopping at Costco, passing through airports, or eating in restaurants, I saw America through the eyes of unhealthy adult women.  
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third (36.5%) of adults in the U.S. have obesity.  Kids who have obesity are at increased risk of obesity in adulthood.  One reason for concern if a woman is obese (or overweight) as an adult is when she becomes pregnant.  There are real consequences to the health of the child born to a woman who is obese, just as there are risks to the health of the mother. 

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Being born to a healthy mother – and father - is one commitment all children should expect.  Being overweight or obese during pregnancy places the person at higher risk for many serious conditions, including complications during pregnancy, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and certain cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon).  Being obese as a young woman often carries lifelong psychological scars. 

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Teaching young women about the importance of healthy eating, regular physical activity, good sleep habits, and being at a healthy weight is something schools should be teaching, doctors should be talking about and programs such as Healthy Start should embrace and honor.  

Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits and Vegetables

We owe it to ourselves to become aware of what it means to practice good health habits every day.  More importantly, we owe it to America’s next generation because our children's health depends on our own health.   

Eat real food - whole food, plant-based.  Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.  Be active every day.  Make good sleep a priority.  Avoid processed foods.  

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.