Diabetes and obesity, especially among children, in America has risen over the past few decades according to the website The State of Obesity. It states that “since 1980, obesity rates among teens ages 12 to 19 quadrupled, from 5% to 20.6%”(3). This statistic alone should alarming enough for us to reverse our bad habits yet here we are pressing the snooze button. It is my opinion that besides lack of exercise, the main contributor to this epidemic is due to poor eating habits caused by misleading foods that seem appealing to the eye but not the stomach. These unhealthy addictions produce an inability to enjoy a full life and can lead to a person having a higher risk of diabetes and/or obesity. However eating healthy and limiting all types of meat consumption is a way we can start lowing these statistics. It is imperative that Americans start learning the importance of eating healthy so we can change and maintain a balanced diet before we pass the point of no return.
Can you believe that it was just merely a few years ago in 2015 that a child the age of three in Texas was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes? Not only was she the youngest human ever to get the disease but she was 77 lbs when diagnosed. Now based on the information from a website called Kids Health, “An average 4-year-old weighs about 40 pounds”(5). That is more than twice the normal weight of a child this age which categorizes her as obese. Her parents were the main contributors, being overweight and eating unhealthy themselves yet was it their fault or societies fault for not educating them to the dangers and risks that certain foods have? I can understand when a working family needs a quick solution and wants something fast and easy. Most parents rarely have time to make a home cooked meal every night but is it worth the risk of their children’s health? It scares me and because according to The State of Obesity website “Among 2- to 5-year-olds, the rate more than doubled, from 5% to 13.9%, as did the rate of 6- to 11-year-olds with obesity, from 6.5% to 18.4%”(3). This is a subject we should not take lightly.
Did you know that there is a positive correlation between meat consumption and obesity as well as type-2 diabetes? In an article titled Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets the authors state that by “using linear and logistic regression analyses, they showed that there was a positive association between meat consumption and obesity”(1). Berkow and Barnard, the authors of this paper, even report that “in Nutrition Reviews that a vegan or vegetarian diet is highly effective for weight loss”(1). So does this mean that you can actually reverse the effects of obesity by sustaining a healthy and nutritious diet by cutting out meat products? Well with the help of your primary physician combined with a lot of discipline, some exercise and the right diet for your body, it is possible to get done to an appropriate weight. Especially in youth we must try to stop this with a proper diet and cutting out meat might be a way to do it because “studies exploring the risk of overweight and food groups and dietary patterns indicate that a plant-based diet seems to be a sensible approach for the prevention of obesity in children”. This study also stated that “The Adventist Health Studies found that vegetarians have approximately half the risk of developing diabetes as nonvegetarians. In 2008, The Permanente Journal/ Spring 2013/ Volume 17 No. 2 Original RESEARCH & CONTRIBUTIONS Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets Vang reported that nonvegetarians were 74% more likely to develop diabetes over a 17-year period than vegetarians”(1). Even looking at insulin production from another article it says that “Plant-based diets are high in fiber, antioxidants, and magnesium, all of which have been shown to promote insulin sensitivity”(2). It seems as if less meat consumption does more than help out the environment because it also helps the individual in the environment.
Now we’ve all heard the saying “You are what you eat” but do you know where it came from? This phrase was first said by Anthelme Brillat-Savarian in 1826 as “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es” with the direct translation being “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”(4). To think that almost 200 years ago is when this saying came into the world yet where is the world now? We’ve all heard this self-explanatory saying one way or another yet why does it seem that diabetes and obesity rates are rising? Could it be that our diets are contributing to this more than we even want to realize? What if we could isolate the problem of this epidemic and cut it out before it cuts us out? So if you are what you eat, what are you? It is crucial that you ask this to begin the journey to your healthiest self. Personally, I am a proud vegetarian who is transitioning into full vegan. This means I am a very conscious consumer to make sure I know exactly how my food was made and what care contributed to its making. This all started in middle school when I first learned about this lifestyle from my mom and aunt. Now at first I took up a vegetarian diet to lose weight, but in doing so I changed my life forever. I feel I have been at a perfect weight ever since and hope to enlighten those who want to change their lives not just for themselves but for their families too.
So does this sound too good to be true or just maybe too hard for you? Well whether it sounds easy or hard it may actually seem difficult to maintain when you start thinking about it. Yet once you realize that the effects of obesity are the result from an unhealthy balance of greasy fatty foods then maybe we can start tackling this epidemic. We as a nation can create a happy and healthy America but it must start with us, the people.
(1)Tuso, Phillip, Scott R. Stoll, and William W. Li. “A plant-based diet, atherogenesis, and coronary artery disease prevention.” The Permanente Journal 19.1 (2015): 62.
(2)McMacken, Michelle, and Sapana Shah. “A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.” Journal of geriatric cardiology: JGC 14.5 (2017): 342.