A study, published this week in Vital Signs, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and based on data from the 2005-2014 United States Cancer Statistics, confirms that being overweight puts a person at significantly higher risk for cancer. It found that:

“Two in three US adults weigh more than recommended.

Overweight and obesity are associated with at least 13 types of cancer: Breast cancer, thyroid, liver, gallbladder cancer, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, upper stomach, kidney, pancreas, colon and rectum, ovaries, uterus cancer, multiple myeloma and meningioma.

More than 630,000 people in the U.S.  are diagnosed with a cancer associated with overweight and obesity which is about 40% of all US cancers.

About 2 in 3 cancers occur in adults 50-74 years old.

Most types of these cancers associated with overweight and obesity increased from 2005-2014 while cancers not associated with overweight decreased.

More than half of Americans don’t know that overweight and obesity can increase their risk for cancer.”

But it is difficult for Americans to lose weight.

Here is some data about the way we, as Americans, eat:

In Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser reported:

  • Americans eat 13 billion hamburgers per year (Enough to circle the earth 32 times).
  • Americans spend today on fast-food 18 times what we used to spend 30 years ago.
  • Americans spend more money on fast-food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, and recorded music all combined.
  • Americans spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars.
  •  A generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food in the United States was spent to prepare meals at home. Today about half of the money used to buy food is spent at restaurants—mainly at fast-food restaurants.

More numbers:

  • The average teenager eats fast food twice a week.
  • Often, people are surrounded by four or five fast-food eateries close-by when a grocery store selling fresh fruits and vegetables can be much further away.
  • The consumption of high fructose corn syrup has increased more than ten thousand percent in the last 35 years.
  • People watching TV watch more than 10,000 food commercials (most often promoting low-quality snacks) per year and eat mindlessly in front of their TV with no portion control.

Some data about kids are especially disturbing:

  • One in three toys given to a child is from a fast food restaurant.
  • Only 36.7 percent of obese children and adolescents have been told by their health care provider that they are obese.
  • We now see children and adolescents with gallstones, fatty liver disease and gallstone pancreatitis, something we did not see 30 years ago. 
  • A 10 year-old child who is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can expect to lose 17 to 26 years of his or her life.
  • The first vegetable often fed to a child is…French fries…

What we can do:

  • Eat a healthy diet by following the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Learn how to cook. Most modern moms and dads don’t know how to cook because they were raised on fast food diets. The new generation of physicians (who should be a role model) doesn’t know how to cook either.
  • Go light on sauces and salad dressings that contain sugar and salt.
  • Do not drink regular sodas that contain the unhealthy high fructose corn syrup.
  • Be wary of diet drinks that can be very acidic, damage dental enamel, cause acid reflux, and get people used to their very sweet taste (a minuscule amount of artificial sweetener tastes much sweeter than the same amount of regular sugar will make fruits less appealing and might make vegetables tasteless).
  • Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, every week. 
  • For children, follow the 5/2/1/0 prescription of Healthy Active Living recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics:

5:  Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetable every day.

2:  Limit screen time (TV, video games, computer) to 2 hours per day or less

1:  Get one hour or more of physical exercise every day

0: Drink fewer sugar-sweetened drinks. Try water or low-fat milk instead.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/obesity-cancer/index.html

http://bit.ly/2vFen14  Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Healthy-Active-Living-for-Families.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2757471/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030

https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/dental-oral-health/are-diet-sodas-bad-for-teeth/

www.nytimes.com/books/first/s…

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