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America is in Declining Health

Reasons Why America is in Declining Health

North America is in Declining HealthStudies from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM, 2006) the number one major contributor to the accelerated health and aging issues lies in the plummeting activity levels of North American society (11, 16).  “Dropping activity levels parallel important changes in the way that we work and live”.  Desk jobs are replacing active jobs.  More of us are living in the suburbs, driving rather than walking to work.  TV viewing is taking up free time that we used to devote to physical activity.

Factors affecting Levels in NA




Consider the following:

  • Since the advent of computers, video games and TV clickers, post-1970s researchers (and space aliens) all agree that we North Americans are get fatter, and more prone to disease, and are doing so earlier in our lives than at any other time in our history!
  • The prevalence of hypokinetic-related diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes II, etc.) is on the rise in North America.  As a result, more medications are being prescribed, but with no corresponding reduction in ailments (12).
  • In 2001 the ACSM recommended that health and fitness professionals be more aggressive in confronting the laissez-faire attitude of North Americans towards physical exercise, as a way of combating a lifestyle that has become increasingly sedentary (16)
  • Other organizations such as the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in Washington, DC and the International Association for the Study of Obesity (ISO) agree with the ACSM, recommending an increase in aerobic exercise from 30 minutes daily for prevention of cardiovascular disease to between 45 & 60 minutes daily, and from 60 minutes daily for preventing weight regain to 90 minutes (1, 2).  When applied, this more aggressive approach has shown to produce a 20% to 50% risk reduction in hypokinetic disease in both genders and races (8,10)

Summary Points  

Our life today is far more inactive than that of our predecessors

  • Use waist girth measurements instead of BMI as a reliable assessment for obesity and cardiovascular disease risk.
  • After the age of 30, fat-loss is no longer a simple result of calories in versus calories out
  • Since 1980, new environmental influences are combining with genetic predispositions to cause North Americans to become obese at a rate never seen before (just ask any space alien).
  • Many medical associations agree that an expanded and more aggressive approach is needed in order to slow the rate of disease and obesity in North America.
  • There is no one factor uniquely responsible for this devastating obesity trend.  Health-care professionals need to adopt and implement a multi-factor assessment strategy to find solutions that address the many variables affecting their clients, including stress, hormones, nutrition, medications, exercise and more.
  • We can’t do it alone anymore: the fat-loss playing field is extremely complex and we need professional guidance.
  • Researchers contend that increased self-awareness through more aggressive education about the early physiological warning signs is essential in the battle against hypokinetic disease.
  • We fitness professionals are on the front-line and have the potential to make major in-roads through our leadership.   They are in a unique position to recognize the warning signs of the growing trend towards obesity.  Individually, we need to realize our power to impart change and ask every morning “What quality of leader do I want to be today”? Then be it for just that day.
  • The time for action is NOW!  So, ask yourself what will your role be in our society’s future and how will you execute it?

Posted by: Andre Noel Potvin

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