Monday, August 15, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Have you ever planted a garden? Did you add composted manure or fertilizer to give your veggies or flowers a boost. If you watered and nurtured and tended your plants, you probably had a successful harvest. You were probably pleased with your efforts. And, yes, a successful garden takes work. And, here’s the parallel.

If we want to successfully address the overwhelming epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes, other chronic diseases, and childhood obesity, we should be looking at what we put into our bodies and what we do with our bodies rather than continually questioning how we pay for the mess into which we’ve gotten ourselves. It’s a matter of being mindful, watchful and proactive—from the beginning. We see study after study and plan after plan telling us how our healthcare dollars will be spent dealing with chronic disease, but we’re not looking closely enough at where the problem originates—with each of us. We’re not tending our gardens.

We already know the majority of us (67 percent) eat too much—and too much of what we consume is mainly composed of chemicals rather than real food. The result is high calorie content lacking in nutritional value—and too much of it. We’ve achieved the really neat trick of being overfed and undernourished, all at the same time.

Studies show that the foods we choose to eat on a daily basis contribute 80 percent to whether we will develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Studies also show that 87.5 percent of our health care claims are due to individual lifestyle choices. We are still and ill.

We already know too, that the majority of us lead what is considered a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, nearly half of American adults report they are not active at all. We spend our time sitting in cars, at desks and in front of screens. This means all those empty, nutritionally void calories we take in aren’t going anywhere. But they sure add up. So much so that Americans are now 4.5 billion pounds overweight.

We know the result. It’s staring us in the face. We know the cause. We also know our collective current condition and associated costs are unsustainable. And we already know each one of us can do something about it. The answer is right there in the choices we each make every day—in how we plant, nurture and tend our gardens. 

How many more expensive studies do we need to tell us what we already know? What will it take for us to start making those lifestyle choices that put the focus where it belongs, where it begins?

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