Here’s quite a reality check – I’m not the norm. How? I am fit, healthy, and have a lower body fat to muscle ratio. What is the “norm”? Sadly, being overweight or obese has become the “norm” and until we reverse this trend, it is going to cost us. 43 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese by 2018, and the nation will spend $344 billion to address health-related problems.
The Fat Gap, a new term coined by British researchers, refers to a discrepancy between how people see themselves and the number on the scale. What constitutes being overweight or obese is now considered the “norm” because those around us–friends, family and colleagues—are overweight or obese.
In a British study reported September 23, 2009, in the Telegraph, only one person in 10 identified themselves as being obese, when in fact one in four was obese (roughly 30 or more pounds overweight). The result, people are unaware they are obese because being fat is now seen as the ‘norm’. This lack of awareness places individuals at risk for medical problems triggered by obesity.
In Carole Carson’s article on this subject in the Huffington Post, Weight Loss: The Fat Gap, Generation Gap And Appetite Gap, she writes “Lest you think I am judging these individuals for their lack of self-awareness, I hasten to add that when, at five feet one inch, I tipped the scales at 183 pounds, I did not see myself as obese. Even though I was 60 pounds overweight, I saw myself as slightly pudgy. Besides, I didn’t think I looked any worse than the people around me. I was trapped in the fat gap and was in the 90th percentile for risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. If I hadn’t lost weight and got fit, I would likely have become disabled or died.”
Dr. Nick Yphantides, author of My Big Fat Greek Diet says, “you have to change the way you see before you can change the way you look, and this certainly applies to how we see ourselves.”
So, why are we becoming a society of “fat people”. Processed/junk foods that are part of the average person’s diet was not around in the 1920’s or 1930’s. Many of the high calorie foods we eat have been scientifically engineered to appeal to our love of foods that are sweet, salty and fatty. These high calorie foods go down fast and we never have a sense of satiety. If food doesn’t trigger a sense of having eaten enough, individuals keep eating even though they may already have consumed more calories than required to maintain their weight.
Not only are we consuming foods that have little or no nutritional value, we are also unknowingly consuming more calories. To add more gasoline to this fire, most people are what has become known as couch potatoes, therefore, not burning/utilizing the calories we consume.
As Carole Carson stated in her article, “We have choices, and we must make them in full knowledge that our future is at stake. If we want to enjoy longer, healthier lives and reduce our burgeoning medical expenses, we’ll have to find or create ways to close the gaps.”
The answer to all of this is very simple, but is too hard and complex for most people. Be aware of the foods you eat. Before you order a meal, ask yourself if what you are choosing to eat is healthy and good for your body. Healthy, nutritious foods aren’t bland and boring. Be aware of how much food you consume in a sitting. Get off the couch and exercise. The human body was not designed to be sedentary, and the fact that we are going against nature, is costing us dearly not only in our own personal health, but as a country.