Alabamians need to hear that message, as well as this painful one:
America’s national epidemic of obesity — with the South at the center of the conversation — is getting worse. It’s a profound problem. And denial is a waste of time.
This week, a new federal government study estimated the U.S. adult obesity rate at 27 percent — and rising, the Associated Press said. Other studies conducted by health professionals and scientists list that rate higher at 34 percent.
Think of the ramifications: 1 in 3 American adults are obese, which often leads to a host of serious ailments such as diabetes, heart attacks and a laundry list of orthopedic problems.
And Alabama? Oh, we love her natural beauty, but she needs to shed more than a few pounds. We’ve heard this depressing news before: Alabamians, like many longtime Southerners, are beholden to unhealthy lifestyles that are tough to break. The South’s higher percentage of low-income families does nothing to alleviate this cycle, either.
From fried food to fast food, from couch-potato inactivity to poor diets for children, Southerners often provide the case-study example of people whose lives are adversely affected by their weight.
Thus, it’s no revelation that most of the nine states the new federal study found had an adult obesity rate of more than 30 percent were in the South. Alabama’s at the top of that uncomfortable list.
That’s where the message carried by the runners in east Anniston should resonate with those who need to regain a healthy lifestyle. It’s time for Alabamians to begin the slow, but life-changing, process of embracing health.
Pick an activity. Get on your feet a few minutes a day; start slow, pace yourself. Change your eating habits — not overnight, but a little at a time. Cut back on greasy hamburgers and 12-inch pizzas; food-wise, convenience can be a killer. Think of how better you’ll feel — health, strength, stamina — with only a small drop in weight. It’s well worth the effort.
As if on cue with the federal study, the U.S. Senate passed $4.5 billion legislation this week that would create healthier lunches in America’s public schools. That legislation is tied up in partisanship and worries over the cost, as you’d expect. But the need to fight childhood obesity in the United States is undeniable, politics or not.
Giving children healthy food choices is a wonderful way to kick-start any movement to reduce America’s waistlines. The U.S. House would be wise to pass its version of the healthy-lunch bill.
Alabamians also would be wise to find motivation in the stories of the 1,000-plus runners from today’s Woodstock 5K. Get up, get moving, embrace healthy lifestyles. Those are tales the entire state should hear.