Poor diet with low physical activity is said to account for 300,000 deaths each
year. Some of the major issues related to diet follow.
Obesity: It is estimated that 33% of Americans are obese and that 55% are
overweight. Obesity is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is
related to stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancer. Too much food
intake, high fat diets, larger portion sizes, and lack of exercise are all contributors to
the obesity epidemic. Of concern is the increasing level of obesity among children and
teens in this country. Families where parents role model healthy eating behaviors are less
likely to have children who are obese. Groups that we know are particularly at risk for
obesity are Native Americans, African American women, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders.
High Fat Diets: Too much saturated fat in the diet contributes to elevated
cholesterol and is a precursor to heart attack. Fat can come in the form of too much
concentration on animal products, frying food products with saturated fats, and portions
that are too large. “Super sizing” in the fast food industry is a good example of how
portion sizes can subtly be increased.
High Sugar Intake: While fat intake has slightly decreased in the US, overall
calorie consumption has increased. It is likely that individuals “make up” the
calories they reduce from fat by substituting high sugar items.