Possible Causes for the Rise in Obesity over Decades
Let’s face it. More and more people are considered to be overweight or obese as the decades pass by. In the 1960’s, the prevalence of obesity was a mere 13% in the United States. In 2004, that percentage had risen to 32, and it is estimated that by the year 2015, 75% of adults and 24% of children will qualify as overweight or obese.
A look at the advances in technology might shed a bit of light and give us a few answers for this rise in the number of people who fall into the category of overweight or obese. First, take into consideration the growing popularity of fast food restaurants. While fast food has been around since 1921 when the first White Castle opened its doors, it really wasn’t until the early 1960’s when fast food experienced its surge in growth. McDonald’s enjoyed major growth spurts in 1960 and 1968. The fast food trend is holding its popularity due to affordable, convenient, albeit unhealthy sustenance.
Television is something that most of us totally take for granted these days. In 1948 only one million homes in the United States had a television set (and those were the kind that you actually had to get up and change the channel and mess around with the antenna!). These days, Americans spend countless hours sitting on their behinds on the couch, munching on popcorn (or whatever the snack of choice may be), and stare at a television screen. Not especially conducive to weight loss or exercise.
Another invention which has made our lives unbelievably easier is the microwave oven. It has also contributed to our girth gain. The first countertop microwave was available in 1965 and came with a price tag of a little less than $500.00. In 1975, sales of the microwave oven exceeded that of gas ranges. Americans are addicted to convenience and instant gratification. With the readily availability of the microwave in homes came the increase in variety of microwave dinners. Quick and easy? Yes. Healthy and calorie conscious? Not always. To be fair, there are plenty of diet microwave meals available these days, but it seems that most of us are not taking advantage of this availability.
Computers and video games are also culprits behind our sedentary lifestyles. Ask any kid what he/she would rather do, play a video game or get up and go outside to use his/her imagination in a game such as cowboys and Indians. Social media has taken the place of all ages actually meeting in person and participating in physical activities. Again, to be fair, many of the video games these days are designed to get people up and moving. We’ll see if that trend stays alive.
Finally, there are some economical and social reasons for the rise in obesity. Most families these days have a situation in which both parents must work outside of the home. This often leaves the kids to fend for themselves and to have very little monitoring when it comes to snack consumption. It also means there are less healthy family dinners being prepared. Dangers in our society quite often prohibit free play for children outside. More often than we’d like to admit or acknowledge, it is simply too risky to let the kids loose to roam the neighborhood playing with their friends. Instead, the kids are encouraged to stay inside where they can be supervised and protected.
Our society has evolved immensely where technology is concerned. We have all of the conveniences that we could possibly imagine or ask for. Yet, we must begin to question…at what cost?