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Americans still struggle with obesity - April Avison

We all know that obesity in America is more than a problem – it has become deadly. A recent government study found that in 2000, "poor diet" was responsible for more than 400,000 deaths, running a close second to tobacco-related deaths, which numbered 435,000.

You can make all the arguments – restaurants serve large portions, kids aren't eating well at school, fast food is the devil – but the problem really begins with a personal choice. And, by the way, if kids aren't eating well at school, it's because their parents aren't packing healthy lunches. We'd all be doing well to live off the diet prescribed by the school nutrition department, which is regulated by fruit and vegetable servings.

Basically the reason our country has a problem with obesity is because we choose to eat too much, too often, and we are physically inactive. Particularly in the metro Atlanta area, most people drive to work, and don't really have the option of walking because of the distance between home and business. But how many people are getting up early to exercise?

That, it seems to me, is a primary reason why American people are obese. We all make a New Year's resolution to lose weight, then proceed to stuff ourselves with food and watch football and drink beer for the rest of the day. Losing weight, as we all know, takes some effort and for many, it requires a lifestyle change. Why, when we know the negative effects, do we continue to ignore this logic?

It's not difficult to implement an exercise plan. ?I don't have time to go to the gym," many will argue. That's a lie. Get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later. Spend one less hour reading or watching television.

And you don't even have to go to the gym. You can exercise in your own home. In fact, that's the way I prefer to do it. Nobody can laugh at you if you're in the privacy of your own home, and it saves you the hassle of driving to the gym. You can buy a set of 10-pound weights to lift, or do squats and lunges, push -ps and sit-ups all by yourself in your living room. There are zillions of workout videos and DVDs available – ranging from weight training to tae bo to salsa dance – if you need an "instructor" to guide you through a workout. Or just take a stroll around your neighborhood.

Certainly some people have to struggle with their weight more than others. Many will say their weight problem can be chalked up to genetics. But that doesn't mean you can't do something about it. The next time you're complaining over a chicken fried steak about how you really need to go on a diet, quit complaining and do something about it. It's for your own good.

April Avison is the city editor of the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at aavison@henryherald.com.