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BellaOnline's Geriatrics Editor

Obesity in America

America truly is a great nation, perhaps in some ways a little too great. The variety of cuisines is awesome. People travel from miles away to enjoy a Philly cheese steaks, New Yorker and tourists alike canít resist the tantalizing aroma of hot dogs, hot roasted nuts, pizza and other delectable delights as they hurry to and fro.

And who can pass on a giant size tub of popcorn dripping with wet, mouthwatering butter at the movie theatre? Of course, you havenít really experienced bar-be-que until youíve tasted a spicy Memphis meal.
The variety of tasty morsels that titillate our taste buds is never-ending.

Twenty years ago, who would have thought there would be so many cooking shows on cable? But what price do we pay for our fascination, or obsession some might say, with food? Yes, some foods provide comfort while others just satisfy a seemingly overwhelming desire fueled by marketing masterminds.

Recent evidence sheds more light on the link between obesity and its risks. Everyone knows that being obese or overweight significantly increases oneís risk of developing heart disease and strokes - two of the three leading causes of death in America.

However, an alarming number of cancer cases are felt to be directly linked to excessive body fat as well. A report recently released by the American Institute for Cancer Research revealed the following association between excess body fat and the following cancers:

49% of endometrial cancers
35% of esophageal cancer cases
28% of pancreatic cancer cases
24% of kidney cancers
21% of gallbladder cancers
17% of breast cancer cases
9% of colorectal cancer cases

The bottom line is that over 100,000 cases of cancer are believed to be caused by excess body fat. While heart attack, stroke, and cancer claim a disproportionate number of American lives each year, few diseases have the potential to have the potential to cause as much emotional and physical damage as diabetes, yet another disease strongly associated with obesity and overweight.

Practically everyone knows someone who has diabetes mellitus, but few people truly appreciate the toll it takes on those who have to deal with this condition each and every day they lives. Blindness, kidney failure, premature heart disease, and amputations are just the tip of the iceberg of potential complications of diabetes. Stroke, impotence, and painful nerve disease, and gastrointestinal problems - which make controlling the blood sugar much more complicated -round up the most feared complications of this sometimes brutal disease.

While few would be foolish enough to believe that everyone who has excess body fat is simply not trying hard enough to lose the extra weight, a comparable few believe that everyone who is overweight or obese is the victim of poor genetics, a mother and father who were just unlucky in the inheritance of their gene pool.

Though the factors that predispose to and perpetuate obesity are far too complex to delve into in a short article, the bottom line is this ó all of us are, were, or will be overweight/obese or we love someone who is.
Granted, joining a gym (or even running in place in front of the television set for 10 or 15 minutes a night, for that matter) may not be at the top of your list of priorities. And neither is choosing the grilled chicken sandwich and a side salad over the double cheeseburger dripping with grease and a side of large fries. But letís look past the fleeting pleasure of the today and focus on all of our tomorrows, God willing, may they be many.

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Content copyright © 2013 by A. Maria Hester, M.D.. All rights reserved.
This content was written by A. Maria Hester, M.D.. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Patricia Villani, MPA, PhD for details.

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