While the U.S. was preoccupied with Covid-19 over the past 18 months, something catastrophic was brewing in the background.
Let's backtrack a little.
Before the pandemic, the U.S. wasn't exactly considered the epitome of health. Look at this map comparing obesity rates in 1990 and 2018.
The CDC has considered obesity an epidemic since 2011. When looking at the numbers, it's clear that we have a serious health problem in this country.
Shortly after the first lockdown in March 2020, I started getting concerned. Of course, there was the fear of the actual virus and the uncertainty of my business. But there was something else.
I began thinking about the long-term consequences of being locked down in a society that already struggles with resisting the unhealthy temptations of modern life.
Will being stuck at home make us more sedentary?
Will a heightened sense of anxiety lead to overconsumption of sugary/fatty foods?
Will alcohol abuse increase?
Will lack of social connection lead to mental health problems?
Worst of all, will being in a constant state of fear exacerbate all of the above?
Well, the data is in.
Despite many of your friends impulsively buying a Peloton, adults in the U.S. gained an average of 29 lbs since the start of the pandemic.
The statistics on children aren't any better. The percentage of children aged 5 - 11 considered overweight or obese jumped from 36% to 45.7%.
Read that again. Almost half of our young children are overweight.
The fact of the matter is that covid didn't create these problems—it exacerbated the challenges we were already facing as a nation.
Americans lead sedentary lives. We eat calorically dense, heavily processed foods. Our kids spend too much time in front of screens and not enough time playing outside.
We develop unhealthy habits and, in most cases, carry them with us for the rest of our lives. The result is a drastically reduced quality of life and the development of diseases that could have been prevented by lifestyle choices. A majority overweight population also puts tremendous strain on our healthcare system, which affects our entire society.
It's easy to play the blame game and point out what's broken in our system, but I'd rather discuss possible solutions.
The best thing you can possibly do to help improve the situation is lead by example. Get your own life in order. Work diligently to break your bad habits and develop healthier ones. Teach your kids about health, fitness, and nutrition. Those around you will notice and hopefully be inspired to do the same.
Change begins at the individual level and ripples out into our respective communities. You can't help everyone, but you can be the catalyst for those who want to make a change and need the support.
It's important that we sound the alarm on this matter because mainstream media and our politicians certainly won't. Spread the message of health and wellness everywhere, and let's hope our fellow Americans start listening.