Are We Eating Epidemic 'Portions' of Food?

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Has consuming epidemic "portions" of food led to the increase in the overweight and obesity in epidemic proportions? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 69 percent of adults are overweight or obese, up from 56 percent in 1994. Furthermore, approximately 80 percent of adults do not meet aerobic activity or muscle-strengthening guidelines despite the positive impact of exercise on weight management and weight-associated risk factors for heart disease.

We appear to be eating more and moving less.

Recently I asked a friend what has made the biggest impact on her weight as she ages. When we were done crying about the fact that we are both aging, she said it was meal portion size that has made the biggest impact. For me, too! Cutting back on the amount we eat can help us maintain our weight and control deadly risk factors associated with obesity.

Merriam-Webster defines "epidemic" as widespread, wide-ranging, general, sweeping, prevailing, rampant and prevalent. Many have referred to the state of today's adult obesity and overweight numbers as an epidemic.

Being overweight and obesity are major contributors to chronic diseases in the United States and present a major public health challenge. Approximately half of adults live with a chronic disease, with adults over 50 years old living with two or more chronic conditions. Research shows that obese individuals incur 46 percent increased inpatient costs, 27 percent more physician visits and outpatient costs and 80 percent increased spending on prescription medications.

Knowing your BMI (Body Mass Index) is a good start to knowing if you fall into this epidemic category; however, waist size is a better predictor of weight-associated heart disease risk than body weight or BMI. In addition, you can determine your waist size easily and right now! With a tape measure, find the distance around the smallest area of your abdomen below your rib cage and above your bellybutton. For men, between 37 and 40 inches is overweight, and more than 40 inches is considered obese. For women, 31.5 to 34.6 inches is overweight, and more than 34.6 inches is considered obese.

If you want to change where you are going, you need to first know where you are. I know it hurts to stand on that scale or measure your waist, but the pain of a heart attack is much worse! In this case, ignorance is not bliss.

Let's begin by recognizing what you eat and, more importantly, how much you eat. However, even if you're eating the best diet in the world, you still need to exercise. That exercise component helps maintain a high metabolism needed to burn calories. That exercise helps to decrease that bad cholesterol that accumulates in your arteries. That exercise is the right partner along with your diet and will get you to the finish line. It's YOUR move!

Corley Roberts, ACSM EP-C, MHA, CPHQ, is an Exercise Physiologist, published author, public speaker, health care professional and founder and CEO of MyFitScript. MyFitScript has been featured on Medscape Inc., CBS Healthwatch, Business and Health Magazine and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Visit for exercise education and programs, or contact Corley at

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Corley Roberts
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