According to the most recent estimate, 36 percent of American adults are obese. However, an NPR poll found that 75 percent of adults on the United States believe they have a healthy diet. This is according to a 3,000-person poll NPR conducted with Truven Health Analytics in May 2016. There’s clearly a bit of a disconnect that could explain why obesity rates in the United States remain steady.
More than 80 percent of adults in the United States do not eat the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but many eat too much sugar and refined grains, which the body breaks down into yet more sugar.
Seventy-five percent of poll respondents considered their eating habits to be “good, very good, or excellent.”
Could it be that Americans do not know what constitutes healthy? Do they believe they’re healthier than they are? Or perhaps is it confusion regarding proper portion sizes? Many foods are healthy in moderation but become unhealthy when you eat too much.
Many nutritionists think promoting education and understanding of portion sizes could help reduce the obesity rate. Many people pay more attention to including healthy foods in their diet than they do to overall calories consumed. If you’re eating plates full of vegetables and leans meats, it can still lead to weight gain (or prevent weight loss) if you eat too much.
Monitoring overall consumption is also more difficult than simply remembering to add a piece of fruit or side salad to a meal.
The culture of eating every few hours does not help. Although many health conscious people swear by five small meals a day, some people may be overeating five times a day, rather than eating three square meals. People tend to do the best they can with their circumstances and the knowledge they have, but it is often not enough.
Relentless and constant food marketing does not help either. The industry spends billions every year promoting sugary drinks and junk food. Celebrity endorsements also influence foods’ popularity and eating habits. Among other things, the industry has led the general public to believe certain foods are healthy that actually are not. This includes granola bars that are often packed with added sugar.
The effective marketing has contributed to the disconnect between what nutrition experts believe and support and what the general public understands to be healthy.
To improve obesity rates and the population’s health, more education is needed on nutrition and healthy eating habits, separate from celebrity endorsements and corporate advertisements from the food industry.