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Category: Politics

God Wants You To Be Healthy and Fit

According to a 2006 Purdue University study, evangelicals are considered the heaviest of all religious groups. The study found that Baptists lead the group, with a 30 percent obesity rate, compared to Jews at one percent and Buddhists and Hindus at less than 0.7 percent.

Similarly, a 2011 Northwestern University study that tracked more than 3,000 people for 18 years, revealed that those who attend church or a bible study on a weekly basis are 50 percent more likely to be obese. On a larger scale, nearly one-half of the American population will be obese by 2030, reports a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Almost all spiritual institutions in America and the world will agree that God wants you at your very best in every single aspect. Here at Health Fitness Revolution, we know He wants America and the world to be healthy and fit. That’s why our team is the first in the United States and the world to begin exploring the role of health and fitness in spiritual institutions. Because leaders of spiritual institutions hold a strong influence on their congregation, we published the first article of its kind on the Top 10 Fittest Christian Leaders in the United States.

We followed with articles on the Top 10 Fittest Religious Leaders in the United States, and the Top Fittest Female Pastors in the United States. In our continued efforts to make a stronger impact on the spiritual world in America, we ranked the Top 20 Fittest Churches in America, the Top 20 Fittest Churches in Texas, and finally the Top 50 Fittest Mega Churches in America. From our perspective, we have only scratched the surface of the enormous potential that spiritual institutions can contribute in the fight against obesity, a plague that is threatening to destroy the very nature of our creativity, productivity, discipline, focus, determination and freedom that the Western civilization stands for.

“My main message to churches is to live like Jesus,” said Samir Becic to The Christian Post. “Two thousand years ago, we didn’t have access to processed food so Jesus only ate organic. Jesus was active; He was kind and always helping people. All those components that Jesus had 2,000 years ago are prefect examples of how to live a healthy lifestyle in the 21st century. Spiritual balance, social interaction, kindness, happiness, physical activity and organic food — that is my main message.”

“We want to focus on the Christian community because they have the highest obesity rate of any community in the U.S., and we believe that our bodies truly are our temples. When you are healthy, you’re able to be more focused on God, I believe that with my heart and soul. That’s a key component to a healthy lifestyle,” said Becic.

Samir Becic, founder of Health Fitness Revolution, started the Total Life Challenge at Lakewood Church, the largest in America, four years ago. Now, he is determined more than ever to challenge the thousands of churches and spiritual institutions across the country. As of right now, more than 500 churches in America are using Health Fitness Revolution resources in order to equip their congregations with the necessary knowledge and education about healthy lifestyle and physical fitness.

“Spiritual awareness is one of the key components of healthy lifestyle that impacts the whole body and rejuvenates the spirit,” Becic said. “Physical fitness and healthy nutrition allows that spirit to flourish to new dimensions and many people experience a closer relationship to God. The Mega-Churches of today hold a strong influence on the general opinion of mainstream America. Followers look for daily guidance from pastors and heads of ministries on the best way to live their lives and raise their families. It is enormously important to provide the churches with the correct knowledge on fitness and proper nutrition so they can influence and better their members’ lives.”

If your spiritual institution would like to get healthy and fit, email Health Fitness Revolution at info@healthfitnessrevolution.org for more information.

Obesity’s Affect on Healthcare, Corporate Spending, Education and Homeland Security

The obesity epidemic the U.S. is facing should be one of the primary concerns of the future president of the United States.

“This issue that is plaguing our nation should not be delegated to the second, third, or fourth in charge, but should actively involve the president themselves. Some presidential candidates are saying their spouses would be interested in promoting the health of this nation, insinuating that fighting the obesity epidemic would not be their concern” Samir Becic said. I’m strongly opposing this notion and this is my reasoning why:

“We are one of the most obese countries in the world, and statistics are showing that by 2020 over 75 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese. We must change this and to do this we need more than just policy and jargon – we need a leader, a president who knows the real issues concerning the health of America”.- Samir Becic

Obesity Rates Spike in America

An analysis conducted by the National Heart Forum found that by 2030, 1 in 2 people will be obese – not merely overweight, but obese. Considering 60 to 70 percent of all chronic illnesses can be linked to obesity, this is more than just a national problem. According to Trust for America’s Health, twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent. Today, there are 41 states with an obesity rating above 25 percent. And since 1980, the rate of obesity in children and adolescents has nearly tripled.

Read: Statistics On Obesity’s Affect on America

Obesity a Big Factor in Healthcare Costs

Healthcare and healthcare reform are big issues in politics. The magic solution to these issues, however, is not rooted in subsidies, single-payer systems or the actual affordability of healthcare unique to every American – it’s in the individual health of Americans themselves. Ideally, the healthier you are or aim to be, the less you have to worry about chronic illnesses and injury, and by extension, the less you have to worry about healthcare costs.

Given the state of American health and the economy, obesity has taken more than a few dollars from Americans. Regarding health care costs, for every dollar spent on healthcare, $0.95 is spent on treatment; the other $0.05 is spent on preventative care. While that may not sound like much, in total, obesity-related medical treatment can cost up to $210 billion a year. Researchers estimate that if obesity trends continue, obesity-related medical costs could rise by up to $66 billion each year.  

Comparatively, obese people spend 42 percent more on healthcare costs than those of healthy-weight. In fine numbers, per capita medical spending is about $2,741 higher for the obese than healthy-weight individuals.

Read: Top 10 Health Tips for Americans

Corporations Spend More Due to Obesity-Related Medical Concerns

Along with monetary concerns, obesity has played an active role in decreasing American employee productivity, discipline, focus, energy and even creativity. Corporations who provide benefits to their employees  with healthcare take a big hit as well.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the current annual impact of poor health costs Americans about $1.8 trillion. This number is a sum of costs concerning obesity-related job absenteeism ($4.3 billion annually) and various forms of medical care among other things, which is almost no surprise given than 80 percent of Americans work in jobs that require little or no physical activity.

All is not lost when it comes to healthcare reform, however. Statistics show for every dollar spent on wellness initiatives, corporations can save as high as $10 in costs amounting to obesity-related medical concerns in the private sector. In fact, medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs – great news for the employee.

Perks go to the employer as well, as companies with wellness programs in place have an average 28 percent reduced sick leave and spend 26 percent less on healthcare costs. Additionally, the money corporations save as a result of implementing wellness programs could be used for improving the quality of the workplace, adding more employee benefits, or even increasing employee wages.

Childhood Obesity a Contributing Factor in Inhibiting Education Success

For children, obesity can play a vital role in that child’s academic success. Studies found that obese students – and especially girls – tend to have lower test scores than their slimmer peers, are more likely to be held back a grade and are less likely to go on to college.

The latest such study, published in the journal Child Development, followed 6,250 children from kindergarten through fifth grade and found that, on average, those who were obese scored lower on math tests than non-obese children.

Additionally, studies found that physically fit children had a 2.4 times greater chance of passing math tests and a 2.2 times greater chance of passing reading tests compared with aerobically unfit children.

According to a study in 2010 by the University of Pittsburgh, overweight people had four percent less brain tissue than people of normal weight, and obese people had eight percent less brain tissue than people of normal weight. These results are serious for children who are obese as a lack of brain tissue can result in a lower IQ, decreased attention span, impairment of memory functions and poor coordination.

In terms of costs, of the approximate $210 billion Americans spend on medical care due to obesity-related illnesses, childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14.1 billion in direct costs.

Annually, the average total health expenses for a child treated for obesity under Medicaid is $6,730, while the average health cost for all children covered by Medicaid is only $2,446.

Homeland Security at Risk Due to Rise in Obesity

While the United States continues to lead the world in military spending, the U.S. can’t deny how the rise in obesity has become a significant concern for national security. In fact, a 2010 report by mission readiness found that obesity is the leading medical reason why applicants fail to qualify for military serve – and no wonder, with 27 percent of Americans ages 17-24 – that is, 9 million young adults – cannot serve due to their weight.  

The last time military leaders were active in the health young adults and its effect on the future of the U.S. military was during World War II, following the Great Depression.

Needless to say, this is a problem. Obesity does not affect us merely the obese with medical problems, but the entire country as well. We would do well to take care of this epidemic as we would any other – to inspire many to partake in regular physical activity and be conscious of their nutrition intake. Little steps we can take like drinking more water or going for a walk 20 around the neighborhood 20 minutes a day are significant lifestyle changes that can lead to a healthier, more enjoyable life.

Read: Why is America So Fat?

 

Obesity a Big Factor in Healthcare Costs

Healthcare and healthcare reform are big issues in politics. The magic solution to these issues, however, is not rooted in subsidies, single-payer systems or the actual affordability of healthcare unique to every American – it’s in the individual health of Americans themselves. Ideally, the healthier you are or aim to be, the less you have to worry about chronic illnesses and injury, and by extension, the less you have to worry about healthcare costs. 

Given the state of American health and the economy, obesity has taken more than a few dollars from Americans. Regarding health care costs, for every dollar spent on healthcare, $0.95 is spent on treatment; the other $0.05 is spent on preventative care.

Obesity Raises Healthcare Costs

While that may not sound like much, in total, obesity-related medical treatment can cost up to $210 billion a year. Researchers estimate that if obesity trends continue, obesity-related medical costs could rise by up to $66 billion each year.  

Comparatively, obese people spend 42 percent more on healthcare costs than those of healthy-weight. In fine numbers, per capita medical spending is about $2,741 higher for the obese than healthy-weight individuals. 

“We are one of the most obese countries in the world, and statistics are showing that by 2020 over 75 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese,” Health Fitness Revolution founder Samir Becic said.

Read: Top 10 Health Tips for Americans

Tomorrow’s Houston Mayoral Forum on Urban Health & Wellness

The candidates at the Houston mayoral forum will be discussing various health issues at Rice University’s BioScience Research Collaborative, 6500 Main St., tomorrow, Sept. 17 at 7 a.m.

The obesity epidemic will be one of the many topics expected to be covered at the forum. Other topics include promoting an active lifestyle and abiding by a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.

The candidates expected to attend include Chris Bell, Steve Costello, Adrian Garcia, Ben Hall, Bill King, Marty McVey and Sylvester Turner.

Given Houston has a proven track record of being among the fattest and generally unhealthiest cities in the country, the Houston mayoral forum will hopefully promote the importance of a healthy and fit lifestyle to Houstonians.

Top 10 Health Facts About New Hampshire Before The Caucus

Over the next few months HFR will follow the US presidential candidates as they tour across the country. The candidates are competing for delegates  in each state, but we will be assessing the top 10 health facts for each state they visit.

This week we are profiling New Hampshire, a small state nestled in the mountains of New England. One of the original 13 colonies, the residents of New Hampshire are devoted advocates of liberty. They also enjoy beautiful and rugged scenery, an Atlantic port, and many lakes. Here are the top 10 health facts about New Hampshire:

  • New Hampshire is ranked the “Fifth Healthiest State in the Nation.”
  • New Hampshire residents enjoy outdoor activities in the state’s beautiful scenery. Some activities include: hunting, fishing, skiing, snowboarding and hiking.
  • The state has over 92 state-parks where citizens of New Hampshire congregate to enjoy fresh mountain air.
  • Seafood, which is a low-fat high-protein food, is a staple of the New Hampshire diet.
  • The state ranks 8th lowest in “Adult Physical Inactivity.”
  • Only 16% of the adult population are tobacco users, the 6th lowest in the nation.
  • New Hampshire has a Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which delivers fresh produce and nutritious food to senior citizens for an affordable price.
  • Skiing, the official state sport, prevents aging, promotes social health, and is a great cardiovascular activity.
  • Mega-gym chain Planet Fitness is headquartered in rural New Hampshire and there are many gyms throughout the state.
  • Town Hall meetings are popular activities in New Hampshire. They promote social connection and political awareness.

To read more Health Fitness Revolution posts relating to politics, click here.

OP-Ed: The Food Industry Should Not Be Able to Buy Studies

How does a failing company keep shareholders from fleeing? How do low-ranked law schools convince new students to fork over expensive tuition for a devalued degree? They juke the stats. You don’t need to fabricate numbers or blatantly lie. Just use misdirection to paint a rosier picture. Divert attention away from the giant leak in the ceiling and focus on the shiny new kitchen appliances. Present numbers or features that sound good and keep the bad news out of view.

They’re not the only ones. How does the food industry keep getting people to buy food that is killing them? You guessed it. They’ve mastered the art of juking the stats.

Earlier this week a study released in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that the sugar industry paid large sums of money to Harvard researchers in the 1960’s to influence medical opinion on the link between sugar and heart disease. Bought researchers downplayed the role sugar played in America’s growing heart disease epidemic and turned attention instead to dietary fats.

These studies were originally published in highly respected journals like the New England Journal of Medicine. This misdirect led to a slew of “low-fat” or “non-fat” foods in grocery aisles that were packed full of sugar.

"Light" and "Low Fat" are often codewords for "High Sugar"
“Light” and “Low Fat” are often codewords for “High Sugar”

The consequence of these practices is enormous. “We have to ask ourselves how many lives and dollars could have been saved, and how different today’s health picture would be, if the industry were not manipulating science in this way,” Jim Krieger, executive director of Health Food America

Misery loves company

Big Sugar is not alone. The rest of the food industry is using the same scheme to make their products seem healthy, or at least less harmful. And some scientists and researchers at the highest level are complicit in making this happen. Trade groups give them huge sums and endowments to conduct research.

This practice isn’t some bygone scheme of the past century. Marion Nestle, PhD explains that pay-for-play continues today. “Is it really true that food companies deliberately set out to manipulate research in their favor?” She asks in a companion piece to the JAMA findings. “Yes, it is, and the practice continues.”

Nestle continues: “Food company sponsorship, whether or not intentionally manipulative, undermines public trust in nutrition science, contributes to public confusion about what to eat, and compromises Dietary Guidelines in ways that are not in the best interest of public health.”

It is unlikely that scientists will reject these research requests out of some higher moral calling. We know that the beverage industry and candy industries are continuing to juke the stats to keep their products in the hands of our children. This is particularly nefarious for public health.

Untangling the food research knot

Companies now have to disclose their research funding, but it hasn’t slowed down the perpetuation of these studies.

Organizations like the American Beverage Association (funded by Coca-Cola) compromise public health with their misleading research. In 2015 the New York Times uncovered evidence that Coca-Cola funded research deliberately downplayed soda’s role in childhood obesity. Coke’s response? “We partner with some of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and physical activity.” That sounds an awful lot like the tobacco industry’s official statement in the 1990’s when it was funding research on the harmful effects of smoking.

sugar industry studies
Coca-Cola’s American Beverage Association wants you to believe that sugary drinks are not to blame in skyrocketing childhood obesity rates

At HFR, it is our utmost goal to make the world a healthier place and reduce the spread of childhood obesity. Childhood obesity increases cardiovascular disease, liver problems, and causes a host of other issues. So when cable news picks up a study with a “feel good” headline (Does candy make you skinnier? Find out after the break!) be aware that it probably is too good to be true.

Scientific research on nutrition should be done with only the public’s best interest in mind. It should not be another PR function for multibillion-dollar industries. But things aren’t likely to change anytime soon, so it is up to the individual to stay educated on health studies.

So what can you do to stay informed?

The most important thing you can do is to be very skeptical of any research study headlines. Read the study itself and see where the funding came from. How? Organizations like Health News Review assess the validity of studies in the media, and give lots of useful tips on how to objectively analyze an article.