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During the past 20 years there has been a frightening increase in the obesity rates in the US. In 2007, throughout all 50-states, the obesity rates were at an average of 22.1-24.2%, which is directly related to an increase of major health issues.

Many industrialized counties have experienced an increase in obesity; however the rates in America are the highest worldwide.

Economic costs attributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States have been estimated at $100 billion since 1995, with approximately $52 billion directly due to medical costs.  Researchers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and RTI International estimated in 2003, obesity related medical expenditures topped $75 billion.

The nation is in real trouble and more recent estimates have concluded that one in three people in the country are overweight, while one in six people are morbidly obese.  Poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle and other bad choices can be directly attributed to the rise in obesity and obesity-related deaths. 

Why Reduce Portions?

How much we eat, is just as important as what we eat when on a quest to reduce food portions and lose weight.  There are some very easy ways a person can reduce portion size and experience weight loss, which include the following:

Stick closely to the recommended serving sizes of favorite foods.

An example would be a serving of meat should be equal in size to a deck of playing cards, a serving of pasta should be no bigger than a tennis ball and a potato should be no bigger than a computer mouse. 

Keep food out of sight.

People who have struggles with food oftentimes cannot resist the urge to snack.  Keeping food out of sight and not purchasing unhealthy foods is the key to avoiding the high calorie snack binges that can sabotage someone on a diet. 

Downsizing dishes.

People with eating problems tend to use larger or super-sized dishes and have no clue what normal eating portions are like.  To encourage someone to stick within normal portions, use a smaller plate, bowl and spoon.  It is easier to resist the temptation to fill the plate if the plate is not large enough to accommodate a heaping mound of food.  Buy items in smaller packages, purchase single serve items and if possible eat pre-portioned meals whenever possible.

Control food portions when not dining at home.

Practice portion control and moderation when dining out or eating away from home.  At a restaurant, ask for the entrée size in lieu of a full sized main meal, or have the server wrap up half the meal in a take-home bag prior to bringing it to the table.  Eat only until full and leave the rest of the food.  If leaving food behind is a problem, try dousing it with hot sauce, salt or pepper to render it inedible.

Limit alcohol consumption.

The average glass of wine or bottle of beer contains more than 100 calories, try substituting white wine or light beer and keeping consumption at a minimum, a person can save countless calories.

Avoid eating in a rush and do not feel obligated to “clean your plate,” when struggling to reduce portion sizes in an effort to lose weight.  Because our country is used to “super-sizing,” everything we purchase at a grocery store or restaurant is in larger quantities, as a result, we as a society are unknowingly driven to eat more. 

Why Is America Obese?

Currently, obesity results in approximately 400,000 deaths each year in the United States.  Childhood obesity is growing at an alarming rate with more than 15% of the county’s youth under the age of 18 being classified as overweight.  Obesity is not only all-encompassing; it impacts lifestyle, self-esteem, social situations, health and quality of life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the term overweight refers to a person who is at least 10% over the recommended weight for their height.  Weight standards are generated according to a sample of the U.S. population’s body mass index (BMI), which assesses weight in relation to height.  Anyone with a BMI of 25 or higher is classified as overweight, while the term “obese” refers to someone who has a BMI of 30 or greater.

Obesity is caused when a person consumes more calories than the body can burn or use.  It is most common in people who eat a high-calorie diet filled with fatty, processed foods and refined sugars and those who do not get sufficient exercise.  Obesity can also be linked to genetics and hereditary factors, environmental causes, psychological factors, physical causes and medications.

Servings per Day to Maintain a Healthy Weight and Servings per Day to Lose Weight

According to the Food and Drug Administration, a woman of average weight and height should have a daily calorie intake between 1,200-1,500 calories any less than 1,500 calories will result in the metabolism slowing down.  The normal daily caloric requirement for a man of normal weight and height should be approximately 2,000-2,700 calories.

The daily calorie count a person should adhere to differs from person to person according to gender, frame size, metabolic rate, height and current body weight.  If a person is trying to lose weight, the goal should be to consume 500 fewer calories per day than the average daily caloric requirement.  A person should never drop below 1,200 calories per day unless on a medically supervised diet plan or under the advice of a medical professional.

If daily intake falls below 1,000 calories, the human body goes into starvation mode which will result in loss of muscle tissue, sluggish metabolism, nutritional deficiencies, fatigue and irritability.  A human body in starvation mode will also make a person experience what is known as the “yo-yo effect,” the body experiences rapid weight gain and loss and health can be adversely affected.

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