This 1 Thing That Over 25% of Americans Do Is Making Us Obese

It’s no secret obesity is a huge problem in America; more than 1 in 3 people are considered obese and studies predict that 80% of men will be obese by 2020. Is the food industry to blame? Is commercialism our downfall? Or are Americans truly just getting lazier? It’s a hard question to answer.

A recent study released a new factor that may play a roll. Read on for the reasons America is becoming increasingly obese and one commonly unknown thing that contributes to our weight gain.

These are the current statistics on obesity in America

obesity man sitting in a room

The obesity epidemic is only getting worse. | Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty Images

America’s obesity epidemic has reached new highs according to a recent report released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The highest obesity rates ever recorded for the U.S. show 40% of American adults and nearly 20% of adolescents are obese.

The National Institute of Health defines obesity as having a body mass index of 30 or higher. Being obese or overweight is the fifth leading cause of death annually; over 2.8 million adults die each year as a result. Forty-four percent of these deaths are a result of weight-associated diabetes, and 23% are of the ischaemic heart disease burden.

Bad dietary habits put you at risk

man eating burger and fries

Burgers and fries just don’t cut it. | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Obesity is usually a result of a combination of genetic factors and dietary habits. Your genes may affect the amount of fat you accumulate and how that fat is distributed.

Obesity is often linked to family lifestyle, dietary habits, and inactivity. According to the Mayo Clinic, your efforts to overcome obesity will prove more fruitful if you set realistic goals, enlist the help of those you live with, and take any prescribed weight-loss medication as directed.

Over 25% of Americans work the night shift — and it’s linked to obesity

An assembly line worker installs front brake line brackets on new 2008 minivans, the Chrysler Tow & Country and the Dodge Caravan at the Windsor Assembly Plant August 21, 2007 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Overnight jobs should be avoided. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Researchers analyzed the data from 28 studies which surveyed over 270,000 people who worked various shifts. The employees spanned multiple sectors like health care, government, manufacturing, telecommunications, and transit.

By comparing those who worked night shifts with those who didn’t, the researchers found staggering results about the link between working the night shift and obesity. Obesity was 23% more likely among night workers, it jumped to 43% for those who worked the shift long-term.

The dangers of ‘shift work disorder’

Man sleeping in his bed

Sleeping during the day and working at night can be rough on your body. | iStock.com/tommaso79

The Sleep Foundation advises against working night shifts, which can seriously hinder your sleep schedule and lead to shift work disorder. “Insufficient sleep has been shown to change metabolism and appetite, and studies have shown that shift workers have higher levels of triglycerides than day workers,” the site claims.

Shift work also disrupts your body’s circadian rhythms, causing you to fall out of sync with behavioral cycles like standard sleep and eating patterns. According to CNN, keeping these cycles regulated can be crucial to weight loss.

Working night shifts can lead to more than just obesity

woman working

Working the night shift can also lead to depression. | iStock.com

“There is strong evidence that shift work is related to a number of serious health conditions,” says Frank Scheer, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School. “These differences we’re seeing can’t just be explained by lifestyle or socioeconomic status.”

It’s estimated that at least 20% of the workforce worldwide works regular or rotating night shifts. While workers often say disrupted sleep schedules are the biggest downside of these shifts, studies have linked working nights to an increased risk for various diseases like cardiovascular disease and depression.

You may be at further risk of diabetes

man eating junk food

Weight gain and diabetes is another factor. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Research published in the journal Science Translational Medicine found that sleeping “against” your body’s natural biological clock (what many shift workers must do) could increase your risk of becoming obese. About 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.

According to the Obesity Society, the single best predictor of type 2 diabetes is being overweight or obese. “People who are overweight or have obesity have added pressure on their body’s ability to use insulin to properly control blood sugar levels, and are therefore more likely to develop diabetes,” according to the society’s analysis on weight and diabetes.

Working the night shift could also increase your risk of breast cancer

Breast cancer self check, Healthcare and Medicine concept

Make sure to do regular self checks. | iStock.com/Tharakorn

A study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that working the night shift raises a women’s risk of breast cancer by approximately 30%. Researchers found that those who worked the night shift for four years had a very clear increased breast cancer risk.

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