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Obesity rate is too high

You had to look far and wide to find an Alabamian of any age who had a roll of fat around his or her waist 65 years ago. It wasn’t because they refused to eat or limited their diet to low-fat foods. As a general rule, foods were fried, cooked and baked with lard, a byproduct of pork fat.

In that era the state was a patchwork of small family farms, which required endless labor. In order to be self-sufficient, farm folks toiled from sunup to sundown to get their work done. It didn’t matter what or how much food they ate at breakfast, lunch or dinner, they were going to burn off all of the calories before the next meal.

My, how things have changed. Farms are few and far between now and those remaining require little manual labor. As a matter of fact, few jobs remain that require a lot of calorie burn. Thus, it’s easy to sit down and let the time drift by while watching a favorite TV program or ball game and munching on snacks.

The outcome of a sedentary lifestyle is not a pretty sight. Our country is fighting an epidemic of adult obesity and Alabama is listed among the leaders.

Just 17 years ago, Mississippi had the highest rate of adult obesity in the U.S. at 19.4 percent. Today, the state with the lowest rate had a higher rate than Mississippi did in 1995 – Colorado at 20.7 percent.

Alabama, at 32 percent, has the fourth-highest rate of adult obesity in the nation. It also is fourth-highest in diabetes, fifth-highest in rate of physical activity and the nation’s leader in the number of people with high blood pressure.

The epidemic is not limited to adults either. In Jefferson County, for example, 22 percent of third graders are overweight or obese.

Fortunately, efforts are underway by health professionals and weight management specialists to stem the tide. In the meantime, a bit to good advice is to eat less and exercise more.