Obesity and the Amish
What do the Amish have to do with obesity? Not much, as it turns out. I recently read an article reviewing the recent Health and Fitness Summit co-sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. This four day event featured 77 speakers on various topics related to health and fitness.
One of the speakers, Dr. Ted Mitchell spoke about the rising rate of obesity in this country, including our youth. He made some interesting comparisons to the Amish that you might find interesting. Such as the fact that the obesity rate among the Amish is 4%, while the rest of the US is 26%.
Their typical diet includes plenty of fat from bacon, eggs, and butter, yet obesity isn't much of a problem. One of the reasons given is that they move around a lot. The average adult male takes 18,000 steps a day, compared to 7000 or less for the typical American male. For American women that number is around 5000 steps.
Without the conveniences of modern society, they burn more calories through physical exertion than the rest of us. Environmental, hereditary, and behavioral factors all influence how you age. In 1900, the top killers were the flu, tuberculosis, etc. Today, some of the top killers, such as heart disease and diabetes, are largely caused by our behaviors - lack of exercise and poor diet.
Another factor that may play a role is fast food and processed foods. I doubt the Amish go to McDonalds too often. All those chemicals in processed foods can't be that great for your health. If you have ever watched the TV show Survivor, you have noticed that everyone looks skinny and those that started out heavier are always much lighter by the time they leave.
Yes, these people are physically active and don't eat much food, but none of the food they eat is processed. Maybe that also plays a part in their leanness.
Maybe we just need to move around a little bit more to fight off obesity. Park your car farther out in the parking lot or take the stairs at work. Interestingly, one picture shown in the article was taken at another fitness and bodybuilding event. The long flight of stairs going up was empty except for three people, while the escalator was jam packed, with people lining up to use it.
Maybe our modern lifestyles have made us soft and robbed us of our health in the process. Not a judgment, just an observation. Some of this information came from an article written by Chris Shugart.
Brian Morgan is a strength and conditioning specialist and massage therapist. For more information on posture, mobility and flexibility training, go to http://www.brianmorganfitness.com