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Is it the diet or the lifestyle?
Here is a very interesting article on Les Sayer, a teacher who went on a McDonalds-only diet on February 1 and managed to lose 13 pounds and slightly lower his blood pressure.
Sayer's point is that it is not the food you eat as much as the lifestyle you lead. I both agree and disagree with his conclusions so far. Fast food is certainly not healthy for the body if you consume too much of it. A healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for good health.
That said, Sayer is 100% correct to point out that the reason many Americans are unhealthy not because of the food they eat, but the lifestyle they lead. Americans, in general, do not get nearly enough exercise to keep their bodies in shape.
One does not need to hit the gym every day to get sculpted abs and highly defined muscles. You do not need to look like a model to be healthy. But we (and I mean the American people in general) do need to be more physically active.
Where this really starts is childhood. I am not convinced that the diets of today's children are dramatically less healthy than children's diets were 20 or 30 years ago. However, the video game systems, the computers, and the television are keeping kids indoors and inactive, whereas a generation ago they would have been playing outside.
One thing that needs to happen is for the government schools to require physical education every year through high school graduation. The bulk of this, though, has to be with the parents. Parents are going to need to take the kid out from in front of the electronic entertainment and send them outside to play. (Hat tip: HR.)