University of Iowa College of Public Health and
John Lowe, MPH, Dr.P.H.
Linda Snetselaar, PhD
First Published: 2003
Last Revised: November 2003
Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed
Nutrition. Physical activity. Obesity. These are words that all Iowans have heard in the media and from their doctor. Iowans know that carrying around the "little extra" is not healthy. Yet Iowa continues to rank high among all states in levels of obesity.
We know we should be exercising more and eating better, yet, for most of us, the weight is not coming off. In fact, it is increasing.
What has changed in our lives? We are working more hours. We have more conveniences in life. Although our lives have picked up pace, we are not engaging in enough physical activity.
We do not have the energy to worry about our health and change our eating habits. Besides, we like the food we eat because it tastes good.
It is becoming clear that the issue is not only what we eat, but it's also how much we eat that makes the difference. We live in a culture that believes it is better to "super-size," and we as consumers somehow feel it is more cost effective--you get more for your dollar.
If you are old enough, try to remember the size of a 15-cent hamburger and fries that used to be served. That was a meal.
Today, many of us eat until we are "satisfied" with that stuffed feeling. This would not be bad if we had jobs that required manual labor, or if we went out to exercise. But most of us go directly from the dinner table to the couch to watch television. And we enjoy a few snacks while watching television.
The key for individuals today is to begin to reduce the total intake of calories. For many years, scientists have been telling us that the only way to lose weight is by reducing calorie intake and increasing calorie expenditure. It's a reasonably simple computation, but it's easier said than done, as we all know.
It starts today. Start by reducing the portions of food by a little bit. Continue to do that over the next several weeks.
You will find it becomes easier as the days go by. As we approach the holiday season, the ability to become "satisfied" will be more easily obtained with less food.
Enjoy the Thanksgiving dinner and have everything you like, but cut in half all the portion sizes. You may find that you can leave Thanksgiving dinner without feeling stuffed, still enjoy family and friends and good discussions, and wake up Friday morning feeling better and healthier.