The Easiest Way to Live Longer

By Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen for Statistics show that the food we eat is the leading cause of illness and death in America. It’s time to make your fork a weapon for health.

The Easiest Way to Live Longer

A raft of sobering reports released in July 2013 reveals some surprising facts underlying the overall health and wellbeing of Americans today. We’re here to give you the good news, the bad news – and a little more good news at the end.

Here’s something to jump for joy about: Americans are moving more than ever before. Over the last decade, the number of women in this country meeting their minimum physical activity requirements (150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week) has increased 4.7 percent. Now, just over half of women in the U.S. are getting what they need – and they’re catching up to men, of whom 56 percent meet the recommendation. But we can do better than half, can’t we? 

We have to, because even this positive upswing in biking, hiking, jogging and swimming isn’t doing enough to stem the tide of obesity. (Here’s the start of that bad news we were talking about.) Obesity is still on the rise. More than 36 percent of women are obese, up 6.4 percentage points since 2001. Of course, a lack of activity isn’t the only thing that leads to obesity. There’s another obvious cause, and that’s what and how much we eat.

The bad news continues: According to a nationwide report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, our diets are the number one cause of death in this country. More than cancer, more than heart disease, more than tobacco. If you have any question whether what you choose to put in your body really matters, consider this: The 678,282 premature deaths in 2010 attributable to dietary risks is significantly greater than the totals for smoking, alcohol and drugs, combined.

So what does this mean? Well, that’s the other good news. It means there’s a simple, easy way you can take control of your health. Eat better food. Limiting processed and fast food, incorporating fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables into every meal, and cutting down on sugar (especially in beverage form) is a cure-all for better health and wellness. And you don’t need a prescription!

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What's Really Causing Your Obesity: Nature or Nurture?

It's more complex than too many calories and not enough physical activity.

The American Medical Association officially recognized obesity as a disease in 2013. But in the past 13 years, there's not been much of a shift in the understanding of what causes obesity — not in the general public, in people who contend with the condition or in the practice of medicine. Most people still think of obesity as a character flaw caused by too many calories and not enough physical activity. But it's much more complex than that.

A study analyzing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data found that even though US adults' BMI increased between 1988 and 2006, the amount of calories adults consumed and the energy they expended were unchanged. It also appears that the quality of calories consumed (low versus high glycemic index) is as important a consideration as the total quantity. And genetics only explains about 2.7% variation in people's weight, according to a study in Nature. That all adds up to this: The two most common explanations for obesity — calories in, calories out and family history — cannot, by themselves, explain the current epidemic.

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