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November 12, 2007
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Waist Management

A recent routine visit for a medical check-up required that the HR Doctor be weighed in. While my weight hasn’t fluctuated for years, I nonetheless found my doctor/friend, as well, as the beautiful HR Doctor daughter Rachel, also “weighing in” on the fact that I could do extremely well with fewer pounds on my body — preferably yanked away from the midsection.  These professionals are, of course, correct.

While this writer is not obese — at least not yet — America is not only the land of the free and home of the brave, it is increasingly the land of the obese and home of the overeater. More than 60 percent of adult Americans are overweight (i.e., a body mass index greater than 25). That is a growing number and reflects a combination of changes in our diet, in our lifestyle and in our lack of consistent exercise. 

The September 2007 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine cited several statistics that support what truly represents a serious failure of Americans to practice effective waist management. The Centers for Disease Control notes that the average adult weighed nearly 10 percent more in 2003 that in the 1980s.  Males had an average weight of 168 pounds back then and about 180 pounds now.  The weight of the average American female has gone from 142 pounds to 152 pounds. A similar growth is present in the weight of our children.

The Smithsonian noted that in the National Football League in 1976, only three players weighed more than 300 pounds. By 2006, 570 players exceeded that “milestone” (or is it a millstone)? We exercise less, eat more and watch more television — six hours and 45 minutes a day on average in 1980, versus eight hours and 11 minutes a day today.

Right along with those lifestyle changes, which have “super-sized” America, is the fact that many of our possessions have also grown in size.

Our cars weigh more, even though some of the materials that make up our cars are lighter. The number of square feet in the average house per person has nearly tripled since 1950. The size of our refrigerators, our television screens, even funeral caskets has increased. If you have any doubt about America’s expansion, visit any of the super-stores and see the staggeringly huge facilities they represent. 

Failure to control America’s burgeoning waist management problem will lead to extraordinarily serious and sad consequences. The trend is clear. The consequences are already appearing.

Perhaps the saddest consequence of all is that the next generation may be the first one in our history to have a shorter life-span than that of their parents.

All the drugs marketed massively during all that television-watching time are stop-gap measures. Obesity leads to diabetes — the disease of the 21st century. It leads to coronary artery disease. When combined with smoking, it contributes to lung disorders. Beyond all that, it leads to a decline in our desire to be active on a sustained basis in life. The more active a person is physically, the more engaged they are likely to be in civic activities, including volunteerism, interacting with neighbors and friends, and more.

The HR consequences are also present in the forms of workplace absenteeism, increases in health insurance costs, reductions in productivity and more.

Despite all of the difficulties and changing statistics cited in this article, it is very possible to be better waist managers. It begins not around the tummy, but inside our brains and our spirits. Do not be the parents of children who grow up addicted to television. Be the parents of children who are active in the community and get up off the couch. Eat better, exercise more; become involved in the society more as a volunteer and as a friend. Make each day a new opportunity to improve your own personal waist management.

Give these things a try and see if you are not feeling better and contributing more in just a few weeks. If you can’t buy a dog like the HR dog Kamala, buy a pedometer. 

The answer to waist management in America is action and acceptance of personal responsibility. At this point, the HR Doctor will be leaving for lunch. It will be broccoli and salmon instead of a double cheeseburger!!!

Phil Rosenberg
The HR Doctor •


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