Exercise is on the rise, but overall health is still suffering
SUMMARY: A recent study found that due to eating and other unhealthy habits, physical activity is on the rise in the U.S., but obesity is not.
Posted: July 10, 2013
A recent study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) from the University of Washington found that more Americans are getting physically active, which is a positive step toward battling the obesity endemic in the United States.
However, due to the consumption of unhealthy, genetically-modified and processed foods that are high in sugar or high in saturated fat, the obesity rates in the country rose between 2001 and 2009. Similarly, a poor diet, smoking and high blood pressure have all kept U.S. life expectancies down. But the harsh side effects on health don't end there. Smoking and a poor diet are major culprits of halitosis, gum disease and tooth decay, all of which are a reflection of the entire well-being of the body.
The results of the study, published in the journal Population Health Metrics, noted that across the country there were major increases in physical activity, especially in several Kentucky, Georgia and Florida counties. To properly calculate exercise, the study considered 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of rigorous activity each week to be sufficient.
"More aggressive strategies to prevent and control obesity are needed. Diet and changes in individual behavior are key components," professor of Global Health at IHME, Dr. Ali Mokdad, said. Mokdad was a co-author of the study. "Understanding local trends in obesity and physical activity in both rural and urban areas will help communities develop successful strategies and learn from one another."
According to the study results, the top counties that were most active for men include Teton, Wyo., at 77.5 percent, Summit, Utah, at 73.3 percent and Routt, Colo., at 72.9 percent. For women, the most active counties include Routt, Colo., at 74.7 percent, Marin, Calif., at 74.2 percent and Teton Wyo., at 72.7 percent. However, when looking at the rate of obesity, San Francisco and Falls Church City, Va., are in the top positions for men and women, respectively.
Community efforts to encourage healthy eating and lifestyle habits are considered necessary to increase life expectancy and decrease obesity, according to Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health in King County, Wash. By eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and cutting out sugary beverages like soda, in addition to staying physically active, people across the country can reduce their weight and increase their overall wellbeing. These practices can also treat halitosis, as fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants and vitamins that combat the bacteria that cause the issue.
As more people are increasing their physical activity, now is the perfect time to make these additional changes to improve overall health. Begin with replacing one common food item, like chips, with a healthier alternative. Try baked kale chips or whole-grain crackers instead. Then, make it a point to cut out high-calorie beverages that are filled with sugar, like soda and some sports drinks. Soda can be very addictive because of the sugar and caffeine, but easing off of these drinks can decrease risks of bad breath and other issues in the mouth. Simply drinking water can be a home remedy for bad breath, so make sure to increase the amount of healthy liquids in your diet.
Lastly, maintaining a healthy mouth is important to make sure the entire body is in peak condition. You should get into a regular routine of brushing, flossing and rinsing every morning and night to decrease the chance of having tooth decay and bad breath. If these issues get severe enough, problems can arise throughout the body as bacteria in the mouth travel through the bloodstream.
Follow these simple steps and you can be on the way to a better, healthier lifestyle without making any major changes to your routine.