By William Butler
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 64.2% of Florida adults are overweight (with a BMI of 25 or higher). The CDC also states that 28.2% of our children are either overweight or obese (with a BMI of 30 or higher). While Orlando serving as an entertain hotspot (with Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, and SeaWorld in our backyards), it comes as no surprise that these are community issues.
Recently, UnitedHealthCare granted four central Florida agencies 3,500$ in grant funding to combat these issues. These grants were part of a national campaign to address childhood obesity that included 175,000$ in “HEROES” grants for schools and organizations. The finances will help support a school-based community gardening program in Sanford, a 5K program in Altamonte Springs, a walking program in Winter Park, and a club in Longwood that motivates students to be active outside of their physical education classes.
And this is excellent news; the private sector is stepping up to the challenge and financially supporting innovative ideas within our communities. But what is truly the most effective factor in beating obesity? What is ultimately responsible for our overall health? The answer may surprise you. It’s not the government, it’s not fast-food restaurants, and it’s not insurance companies. At the end of the day, it’s ourselves.
But let’s not overextend ourselves. Genetically, looking fit and being fit are two separate concepts. Looking fit is completely determined by our genetic body types and little can be done to change that. Most people are a combination of two body types first described by William Sheldon. We appear to be mostly between mesomorphic (medium bones, solid torso, low fat levels, wide shoulders) and endomorphic (increased fat storage, pudgy, short build) in our makeup. Little can be done to become a true ectomorph (long and thin muscles, low fat storage, slim) and this is especially true when evaluating claims made by many gyms and workout programs. The genetic data suggests that people can be characterized into these three groups and we are given little wiggle room. There are always exceptions but the odds are that you are not one of them.
I am not suggesting that we should cut working out altogether. The benefits of working out have been consistently documented for centuries. On the contrary, I am suggesting that perhaps a reason for a lot of resolution dropout is due to unreasonable expectations. If we workout to improve our cardiovascular systems, improve our mood, and possibly extend our lifespan, we cannot go wrong. If we workout to expect a dramatic transformation from a pudgy individual to a Greek God, then we cannot go right. Regardless, we could all benefit from working out, especially the severely overweight.
One of the best places to start is jogging. Jogging is an independent activity that can be done virtually anywhere. You don’t need a gym membership, just a pair of old clothes and supportive shoes. I’ve listed below some run/walks in the Central Florida area as well as a website to keep track of them. Perhaps training for one and participating is a realistic goal that can better yourself and the community that they support.
Cinco De Mayo 5K Run/Walk – Coins for Kids @ UCF (April 27, 2013)
ZOE 5k 2013 @ First United Methodist Church of Oviedo (April 27, 2013)
Tijuana Flats – Just in Queso Super You! 5K Benefitting Special Olympics @ Winter Park (May 4, 2013)
Brighten the Day 5K @ Orlando (October 5, 2013)
William Butler is a psychology and pre-medical student at the University of Central Florida. He works as a receptionist for UCF Health Services at the College of Medicine in Lake Nona, Fl. He also volunteers for the MIT-2 lab, IMAlive suicide hotline, and UCF Counseling and Psychological Services Student Advisory Council. He is interested in neuroscience, music, and spending time with his friends and family. Despite his wide range of interests, William is NOT a medical or mental health professional and all attitudes expressed are opinions and are not intended to be used as medical advice.