On Halloween, 4% of yearly candy consumption is consumed by Americans or 3.4 pounds of candy per person! Frightening! It is also scary to think about how poor nutritional and lifestyle choices have contributed to the obesity epidemic and rise in chronic medical conditions in the United States. But what are the habits that are truly responsible for these issues? According to an article published in The Conversation two trends stand out as major contributors: the increase in going out to eat and shopping at superstores like Costco.
There are more restaurants per capita than ever, and so habitually eating out rather than preparing healthier food choices at home is scary for those trying to maintain healthy weight. Fast food locations are not the only issue. Dining at restaurants that have a wider variety of healthy options were just as responsible. What about when you do eat at home, but shop at Walmart? Well, food available in bulk, at less cost, may be penny-wise but literally pound foolish; causing you to buy more foods you normally wouldn’t be consuming.
Young males are more likely to consume increased sugar and for them it is not about whether they have access to healthy food but how much education they have in general according to the Rand Corporation. Less education means fewer vegetables. Also, during teen years, a lack of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (like Omega 3s) can contribute to mood disorders according to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience. So, instilling good habits during the teen years can improve mental and physical health and help to avoid scary habits as adults.
Not all scary habits have to do with poor food choice. How much time you spend in front of a computer is a lifestyle choice that can diminish your vision. The National Eye Institute is tracking increased near-sightedness related to total computer time. There has been a 66% increase over the past 30 years. Along with longer screen time comes another troublesome habit – increased sitting. In fact, on average, 56 hours each week. That is a terrifying amount of sedentary time unless it is balanced with activities like walking, dancing, gardening, or engaging in a sport. Sitting has been shown to lower metabolism while slowing calorie-burning and overall circulation. The American Heart Association says it could contribute to heart disease as well.
This October, taking stock of the habits you have, and if they are adding to your health or taking away from it, could be a great alternative to just repeating scary habits. Your body will thank you.