Here's an eye-opener: Obesity rates have tripled since 1980.

The age group where the rates are growing the fastest? Children.

Parents take the blame for this, but our society on the whole is the problem. Kids lack the ability to buy and choose their own food. They're at the mercy of what the rest of us give them.

There are a number of reasons why we're getting fatter, and numerous sources explain some of the key reasons.

One of the biggest causes in our bad nutrition is that we're reluctant to eat at home. We believe that fast food saves us time.

In 2009, almost 50 percent of our food spending was made on fast food or other food not cooked at home. Restaurant portions are typically far too large for a recommended serving. In America, we want a lot of value for our money.

Much of the food we eat has added sugar, which harms our bodies in a number of ways. Studies show that eating much added sugar can have harmful effects on metabolism, add belly fat, affect insulin production and create cholesterol. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has directly linked the eating of large amounts of sugar to high weight gain and obesity.

We like to overeat during special occasions with the optimistic mindset that we'll burn it off later. We often don't. Although weight gain is the result of a progression of nutritional choices that accumulate over time, those spikes in calories during the holidays are obstacles that we don't get over, it you gam five pounds over Christmas, you might lose four in the following weeks. Not all of it. That adds up.

In the past decades our food has gotten steadily cheaper. Yet much of it isn't the kind of food that we should be eating. Walk into any convenience store and the number of food choices is almost overwhelming. But a lot of it is factory-made and low-nutrition.

It's also the only kind of food that poor people in food deserts can get. In many small towns, particularly in places like the Nebraska Panhandle, if you don't have access to a car to drive to a grocery store, the available tood within walking distance is processed, cheap and poor quality.

Though it seems that the populace is becoming smarter about this, people still drink too much soda and sugar-laden fruit juices. The easiest way to trick your brain that you haven't already consumed your daily amount of calories is to drink them.

Though Michael Bloomberg's ban on soda sizes in New York City was correctly rejected for being an overreach of power, the underlying message was well-founded. Drinking 44 ounces of soda is bad for your health. No one needs to drink that much pop in one sitting.

In the modern age, many of us work m offices. it s easy to see how that reduces the amount of calories burned at work compared with a hundred years ago. The simple response to that: If you're not getting physical activity at work, you have to make time for it outside of work.

We sleep less, which makes us hungry. We're also eating more daily calories than people 50 years ago.

Add all this information up and it becomes clear that our entire nutritional system is in need of an overhaul. It's not as simple as eat less and work out more. It goes beyond willpower. There are too many pitfalls out there waiting to trip us up.

In many small towns, if you don't have access to a car to drive to a grocery store, the available food within walking distance is processed, cheap and poor quality.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please keep it clean, turn off CAPS LOCK and don't threaten anyone. Be truthful, nice and proactive. And share with us - we love to hear eyewitness accounts.

You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.