COLUMN: Students should take measure to prevent the 'freshman 15'
The obese population has skyrocketed in the last 30 to 40 years, increasing by 74 percent between 1991 and 2003 alone. As of 2010, nearly 78 million adult Americans, 36 percent of the adult population, were considered obese.
According to research from July 2011, obesity rates in America have risen in the last 15 years and Oklahoma’s increase was the largest, jumping from 12.9 to 31.4 percent . This is not the category in which we want to be a national leader, people.
Research data also declares that Oklahoma is lowest in fruit and vegetable consumption and among the highest for sedentary lifestyles. The state ranks seventh fattest and is one of only 12 states having obesity rates more than 30 percent.
The consensus among experts is the obesity rates for Americans began to climb when the food choices marketed to them became unhealthier and their lifestyle became more sedentary — a trend that really took off in the late 1970s.
Freshmen and transfer students should be aware of the unhealthy choices that bombard students and how to avoid unhealthy selections, especially when they live above a fried chicken restaurant and a hop, skip and a jump away from the famous cafeteria — home of the most unhealthy foods available on campus.
We see unhealthy food marketing not only in Norman, but on campus. Considering the trajectory of Oklahoma’s obesity rates and the Healthy Sooners initiative. Allowing such marketing practices within the dormitories and student union seems like a serious conflict of interests.
There was a recent buzz around campus when the OU Regents recently awarded a food-service contract for Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers to set up shop in Adams Center — which is essentially the lobby adjoining four dorm towers.
It’s hard to perceive biscuits, gray and fried food being marketed to students right where they reside as a solution to the obesity problem here.
The two leading causes of obesity are simple enough to determine by just looking at the preponderance of information available from doctors: too much food, especially abundant fast or junk foods and not enough movement or exercise .
Apparently Americans, Oklahomans and the regents do not think enough about the nutritional value, or the lack thereof, of the things they eat or allow to be marketed to them.
Americans in general also spend far too much time sitting in front of televisions, computer screens and at desks.
According to a 2004 study at the University of California, Americans spend nine times more minutes watching entertainment than doing any kind of physical exertion. One of the most popular pastimes for Americans is to enjoy various forms of visual entertainment while eating food that is unhealthy.
The busy American lifestyle has led to a culture that is largely structured around the concept of convenience. Many Americans have developed a grab-and-go mentality, driven by the desire for instant gratification and massed produced, low cost foods that can be handed over to them almost instantaneously.
The problem with that is that these “convenient” or “fast” foods are composed mostly of non-nutritional, “empty,” calories and insidious transfatty acids that clog arteries and hence make people more sluggish, more likely to gain weight and make them even more less likely to exercise.
Although the fare typically found in regular restaurants or pre-packaged in grocery stores is scarcely better, fast food is a major culprit in the obesity epidemic. The advent of fast food and fast food culture has made Americans considerably fatter and generally destroyed the health of the population for profit, according to Eric Schlosser and his book (and movie), “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the American Meal.”
The American appetite for convenient, unhealthy food including cheeseburgers, loaded sandwiches,Tex-mex, pizza and all things fried and greasy has become insatiable since the advent of “car culture” and mobility. Much evidence supports Schlosser’s theory and points to the fact that America has been enabling its own obesity and committing collective suicide by way of its own consumerism and business practices.
Doctors and researchers also have begun to reveal that there are many other cultural, environmental and societal causes that contribute to the multi-layered problem of obesity. New discoveries and statistics have shown that things like genetic or racial predisposition, modern medications, pollution, sleep deprivation and generalized health and nutritional illiteracy also are major contributors and agitators to the obesity problem.
Students should remember sleep debt can make them fatter as they pull “all-nighters” studying or partying.
Don’t let obesity destroy your health, your confidence or your social life. If you are a freshman, guard against gaining the “freshman 15.” Become health and nutrition literate and work toward prevention or correction.
The life you will save will be your own.
Scott Starr is a Native American Studies senior.