1 in 6 US Children Obese, per Lancet Study

10/12/2017 04:28 pm ET

1 in 6 children and adolescents in the US are obese. That’s ten times more childhood obesity than we had 40 years ago.

And for the first time in decades, life expectancy has fallen (of note, the last time that happened, was during the height of the AIDS crisis).

I get it - it can be tough to live a healthy life - particularly in today’s environment where we’re able to be less active and surrounded by greater portion size, pressured with the wrong motivations, and flooded with unreliable, “fad” health information.

It is hard, when you look at it that way.

But it does not have to be. We - and our children - can no longer afford for it to be.

Whether you’re a parent, a parent-to-be, or just worried about your own health, we can all take back control of our health.

Start with these 3 small steps:

(1) Find your “why”. Getting healthy to fit into your old jeans doesn’t stick. In fact, it’s associated with a 40% lower likelihood to actually work out. Instead, find the real reasons you get out of bed. Citizens of Okinawa, one of the longest living communities and one of the “Blue Zones”, call this their “Ikigai”. It could be to be able to spend time with your children, or to someday chase your grand-children pain-free. It could be because you find a fitness activity that you really enjoy and that gives you energy, which becomes a reward unto itself. Or one that you do with your best friend/spouse/child that makes it so much more fun. Just don’t do it for your hips.

(2) Design your environment to make healthy the easier choice. Put produce at eye level (yes, it really works) and junk food out of reach (in fact, studies show that just having to move an extra 20 inches to get it lowers the chances you’ll eat it). Buy produce pre-prepped, or prep it the minute you get home, so you can just grab it and go or cook with it in a pinch. Put healthy foods in clear containers, and unhealthy in opaque. We humans are lazy. So, if you make the healthy choice the easier one, guess which one you’ll naturally take more often? Ka-ching! And it doesn’t even require any willpower or struggle.

(3) Rehab your tastebuds. One of the hardest things about eating healthy today is that we’re fighting against millions of dollars that major food companies have spent to find your “bliss point” - the sweet spot where you literally ‘Cant eat just one!” (yeah, that’s a threat, not a promise). Instead of just trying to cut out all sugar (which takes willpower and will make you an unhappy person), start by removing the hidden sources of sugar. Look at your ketchup, pasta sauces, salad dressings, and BBQ sauce - if it has any sugar derivative in the first 5 ingredients, put it back. (Think sucrose, fructose, glucose (are you sensing the “-ose” theme?), cane sugar, or even agave which metabolizes quickly to fructose).

Try these little hacks (or just one. Start small.) today. Tweet me (@DrDarria) or let me know on Facebook (@Dr. Darria Long Gillespie) how you do!

In affection and health,

Dr. Darria

Want more details? Check out my Sharecare Facebook Live that we did today on this topic!

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.