Ladies and gentlemen of Louisiana, and those beyond our borders, this is a call to arms. I could be witty and say its a call to legs but this is not a topic of humor. In fact, the situation is grim and the consequences are dire. Obesity in Louisiana, as well as the country, is on the rise at an alarming rate. According to the CDC, in 1990, Louisiana’s obesity rate was between 10-14%. in 2010 that figure had risen to 31% Guess what, percentages don’t die from diabetes, people do. 31% is 1,418,369 people.
The CDC uses the Body Mass Index (BMI) to gather its obesity figures, and by all accounts, the BMI is a horrible way to gauge body fat. It does not take into effect gender differences, lean muscle mass vs. fat mass and so on. However, you don’t need fancy scientific measures to see for yourself that the problem is growing. Go to any public place and you can see the results of unhealthy lifestyles. There are many reasons for this going all the way from personal choices to governmental influence.
I could say that the future of Louisiana, or America is at stake, but the truth is, you’re future is at risk. Obesity causes so many diseases it’s hard to count them all but we all know the major players. Diabetes, heart disease, heart attacks. Everyone has someone in their family that has had one of these diseases. Diabetes is nothing to play around with. Imagine your kids growing up without a father or mother because you died of it. Or had a heart attack at 48. It starts at home, with eating right and exercising and promoting healthy lifestyles to our children. The hard fact of the matter though, is that people need to look in the mirror and realize that they are putting their future and their children s future in jeopardy. If that doesn’t get people motivated, then we’re in worse shape than I thought.
I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s easy. Going through a complete lifestyle change is ridiculously hard. I know, I did it. And 3 years later I still fight my old habits every day. The good thing is, you don’t have to totally change your life overnight. Start by walking or biking or swimming, or any number of activities that get you off the couch. Then you have to eat right, it doesn’t make any sense to get active if you’re going to eat the worst foods imaginable. Louisiana is known for its food, and I’m not saying you have to totally give up gumbo and andouille, but some baked chicken and veggies wouldn’t hurt either.
As for the government, making healthy living a priority by building bike paths, and improving parks and jogging trails is a good start. Making cities more pedestrian friendly can have a huge impact on fostering healthy living in people. You’d be surprised how many calories you burn walking downtown, or to and from a bus stop. But people also have to use these resources, so it ultimately comes down to personal accountability.
Most of you who read this post have already adopted a healthy and active lifestyle. I therefore challenge all of you to do whatever it takes to get your loved ones on board. There may be too many races in Louisiana, but there is most certainly not too many runners. There’s enough pavement for everyone. So get out there and