Do you remember my article "Bad Habits Can Kill You" wherein I talked about the dangers of overeating, smoking and physical inactivity? Well, the results of a health study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School definitely bring new meaning to the phrase "every little bit counts".
The findings of the study, which were presented in the 23 June 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, show that physical inactivity and poor eating habits have a cumulative effect on the health of the human body. Put another way, spending too many hours lounging on the sofa while eating junk food and watching TV is going to make you fat.
This should give you even further incentive to eat healthy and exercise. But you don't have to take my word for it. You're also free to disbelieve the New England Journal of Medicine's report (if that's your prerogative).
Afterall, who cares what a team of Harvard researchers found after conducting an extensive scientific investigation (it took twenty years to complete) involving 120,000 men and women whom were healthy at the start of the experiment but gradually became less healthy as the years progressed?
It's not as if those people got fat overnight, is it? Well, of course they didn't suddenly become obese. Their bad habits just caught up with them. And if you're not careful, the same thing could happen to you.
Potato Chips and Idleness Make For An Unhealthy Mix
Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian and his team began the investigation in 1986 by assigning 120,877 participants to three separate cohorts wherein lifestyle and weight changes were evaluated five times during a twenty year period. Within each 4-year check up, subjects gained an average of 3.35 pounds and this weight gain was the result of some familiar foods including:
- potato chips (1.69 lb)
- potatoes (1.28 lb)
- sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb)
- unprocessed red meats (0.95 lb)
- processed red meats (0.93 lb)
Interestingly, this weight gain coincided with a decreased consumption of healthy foods such as
- vegetables (- 0.22 lb)
- whole grains (- 0.37 lb)
- fruits (- 0.49 lb)
- nuts (- 0.57 lb)
- yogurts (- 0.87 lb)
They also observed relationships between poor sleep (less than six hours per night), watching television, physical inactivity and weight gain in the participants of each cohort.
The findings of the investigation led Mozaffarian and his team to conclude that "Specific dietary and lifestyle factors are independently associated with long-term weight gain, with a substantial aggregate effect and implications for strategies to prevent obesity."
So What Does This Mean To You?
The men and women who participated in that study gained 3.35 pounds every four years. That may not seem like much but over the course of twenty years that added up to seventeen pounds. That's right, seventeen pounds.
Have you ever looked at photos of yourself as a child and compared them to your adult photos and wondered "Where have all the years gone?" and blamed the excess weight, achy joints and lack of energy on age? Age has little to do with it. It's lifestyle.
Let's assume that you were an active child, but as you became older you stopped exercising and took on a lot of bad habits. Before you knew it, you had become fat. But when you started exercising and eating healthy the weight gradually came off.
On the other hand, say that you were an overweight, inactive child but started eating right and exercising regularly; over time you became much healthier and more energetic. Your health changed for the better.
The nation is trending toward obesity. If we don't do something about it, obesity will become the norm in America. Unfortunately obesity is associated with a plethora of illnesses including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, etc.
You can buck the trend. Strive to become as healthy as you can be. Don't do it to impress others. Do it to glorify God by taking better care of yourself. So that you can enjoy the sunshine, rainy days, outdoor activities and other wholesome activities with your family and friends in the service of Jesus Christ the Savior of the human race.
You don't have to take my word for it. You don't even have to take Mozaffarian's research or that of countless other studies by reputable scientists to heart.
All you have to do is think about yourself and how your activities reflect your relationship to God. What do you want to do? How do you want to live? If you're worried about your health then you should do something about it. Ask God for help to live a healthy and righteous life in His eyes. This may also involve asking your health care provider to design a fitness and nutrition program that is right for you.
You could even become a role model to your family and friends (read my article "Are The People You Associate With Secretly Making You Fat?"). You owe it to yourself to be healthy. Remember that.
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Mozaffarian et al. Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Men and Women. New England Journal of Medicine (2011); 364:2392-2404.
"Those Bad Habits Really Will Catch Up With You One Day" copyright 2011 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.