Advances in technology, agriculture, and product distribution in the developed nations of the world during the twentieth century have resulted in increased eating and decreased physical activity. For example, the advent of remote controls for television and other electronic gadgets has even eliminated the need to engage in the minor exercise of getting up to turn on, turn off, or adjust the television set. In the United States, the number of overweight people is now greater than the number of normal-size people ("Overweight People Now a Majority," 1996).
Although our culture does not view being underweight as a particularly serious problem, many young women with anorexia nervosa suffer from malnutrition and thereby become more susceptible to disease. Interestingly, research has demonstrated that sharply reducing caloric intake while keeping the intake of proteins, vitamins, and minerals at recommended levels can assist in the avoidance of many diseases and slow the aging of various body systems (Weindruch & Walford, 1988).
Malnutrition in two age groups—schoolchildren and older adults—has presumably declined as a result of the efforts of various organizations, but the problem has not been solved. The high cost of food and the lack of available transportation contributes to poor nutrition among older Americans. Social isolation, which is more common among the elderly than other age groups, also affects the judicious selection and enjoyment of foods, encouraging unplanned snacks and unbalanced diets. Be that as it may, most older Americans have better eating habits than their younger contemporaries. Most older adults eat breakfast every day, are less likely to eat between meals, and are not as likely to be overweight. The fattest Americans are people in their fifties: According to one survey, 73% of men and 64% of women in this age group are overweight ("Overweight People Now a Majority," 1996).
Good eating habits among senior citizens are encouraged by the low-cost "Meals on Wheels" provided by the Nutrition Program for Older Americans. Even more extensive is the Food Stamp Program, which involves all age groups and is directed toward low-income families. The stamps may be exchanged for foodstuffs, or for meals delivered to the homes of persons over 60. Several other federally sponsored programs also make emergency food supplies and services available to older adults with low incomes.
Unlike both active and passive smoking, which are extremely important causative factors in cancer, heart disease, and certain other disorders, alcohol is not always bad for a person. Alcohol abuse, which is most common in middle age, certainly contributes to diabetes, neurological problems, and many other disorders. However, by increasing the supply of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood, a moderate intake of alcohol can help to reduce the probability of developing blood clots and prevent clogged arteries (Cahalan, 1991).
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A time for giving and receiving, getting closer with the ones we love and marking the end of another year and all the eating also. We eat because the food is yummy and plentiful but we don't usually count calories at this time of year. This book will help you do just this.