The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about six out of ten Americans were either overweight or obese. Furthermore, the prevalence of obesity almost doubled from about 15 percent in 1980 to 27 percent in 1999. Dr. J. McGinnis said the current weight statistics predict future problems. 'Obesity now will lead to a higher number of deaths from diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer, and increased prevalence of osteoarthritis."
The CDC noted that most schools have vending machines or snack bars including foods that are largely nutrient-poor and calorie-rich. People are also less likely to cook for themselves these days. Roughly half of all meals are consumed outside the home and many of these are from fast foods. "We have become year-by-year an increasingly sedentary society," McGinnis said. "People used to enjoy walking a half-mile or a quarter-mile but now they take the car to go across the street. And instead of walking or playing sports during free time, children sit in front of the TV or computer.
These are unhealthy habits because their muscles are not moving and transportation has become so easy that children are driven everywhere." So educating the public about healthy nutrition and exercise is essential, the experts said. Healthy foods and more intense physical activity in schools are also important.