NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “The Obesity Epidemic: Unhealthy Habits Result in a Growing Problem for Americans”, which discusses both the patient and provider views on the fastest-growing health problem in America. Download it HERE!
Out of any region in the United States, the Midwest is best known for four distinct seasons which offer a variety of season-specific activities, including snow skiing in the winter, lake time in the summer and the beautiful scenery in the fall. While these seasons offer flexibility and a range of activities that can benefit the emotional side, they also can be contributing factors to obesity, as heavier foods and less activity come with colder weather, and barbecues are the norm during the summer, easily leading to weight gain.
Is More Communication the Answer?
The Midwest has been stung by the obesity bug. Sixty-six percent of the Midwest, a number that leads the nation, believe that obesity is a significant problem in the U.S., and 22 percent of the region—which also leads the nation—report that they have experienced obesity in their life. In addition, the Midwest has the highest percentage of residents, 56 percent, reporting that they are currently overweight or obese. Obesity in the region is growing at an alarming rate, and something needs to be done to help patients better manage their weight. A majority of the Midwest believes that communications from a doctor or healthcare professional could be the answer and would benefit them in the fight against obesity. According to The Obesity Epidemic: Unhealthy Habits Result in a Growing Problem for Americans, 57 percent of the Midwest said that they would be interested in and/or happy to receive communications from their doctor with tips to help manage their weight, and just over a fourth of Midwesterners (29 percent) said that receiving this communication would really help them manage their health. However, currently only 42 percent of Midwesterners have taken that step of talking with their doctor or healthcare provider about their health.
The Need for Change
The Midwesterner’s attitude toward exercise and the alteration of other lifestyle habits must develop a sense of urgency by changing daily routines to include healthier eating and more exercise. Ninety-one percent of people in the Midwest believe that diet and exercise, and not genetics, are the biggest causes of obesity, as reported by The Obesity Epidemic. Yet, the Midwest leads all regions with 53 percent saying that not getting enough exercise or physical activity has negatively impacted their health, and 82 percent admitting they could benefit from losing weight right now. There is no better time than the present to make the effort to change these habits. And implementing long-term behavior changes that last through all seasons of the year is important for success in the fight against obesity.
Sadly, many people turn to fad diets, which often do not lead to long-term behavior changes. According to The Obesity Epidemic, the average American has attempted to diet or lose weight nine times, and only 36 percent—which ties with the South for the lowest in all regions—of Midwesterners have been successful with a diet or attempt to lose weight. This region must look to adjust their lifestyles as a whole, instead of relying on temporary or short-term changes. This belief is supported by the fact that 55 percent of the region believes they could currently do a better job of managing their weight.
Midwestern residents know what good food is. They know how to enjoy outdoor activities, regardless of the season. However, given the increase in obesity in this region, it is important for Midwesterners to make positive lifestyle changes now that will allow them to enjoy beautiful sunsets and family cookouts for years to come.