Posted by: Laurence Harmon on 2/1/2011

1.   TV Watching.  Those of us who watch a lot of television are at risk of being obese.  Recent research has shown that people who watch about two hours of TV daily are “much more likely to be overweight” than those who watch for half an hour or less.  Why?  Because when we watch the tube we’re essentially motionless; our heart rates, blood pressure and metabolic rates decline, which means that we burn very few calories.

2.  Eating Too Fast.  Many of us have a fast-paced existence. Unfortunately, eating fast results in eating too much before we’re fully aware that we’re full.  The brain requires about 15 to 20 minutes to begin to signal feelings of fullness. 

3.  "Task Snacking.“ Task snacking” is a term used to describe eating while doing something else.  People who tend to eat meals or snacks while sitting at their computers, while driving or watching TV, talking on the phone or standing at the kitchen counter increase the odds of becoming overweight or obese.

4.   Frequent Fast Food Meals.  Many of us are too busy to make healthy meals at home.  That’s why we opt for fast food.  But fast foods compromise the quality of our diets:  They have high content of saturated and trans-fat, low fiber content and oversize portion sizes—all of which lead to obesity.

5.  Emotional Eating.  “Emotional eating” is a term that refers to eating large quantities of food—“comfort” or junk food, in particular—in an attempt to mask such feelings as depression, anxiety or loneliness, instead of hunger.  Researchers have found that as much as 75 percent of overeating is caused by emotional eating.

6.  Lack of Exercise.  Exercise is too often at the bottom of our to-do lists. Because today’s Americans tend to live a more sedentary lifestyle than our parents and grandparents, lack of exercise is a primary reason we’re too fat.

7.  Our Friends Can Make Us Fat!  If you're putting on weight, you might consider who you're hanging around with. The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study suggesting that obesity may be “socially contagious.”  The article concluded that having an overweight friend, sibling or spouse increased the risk of obesity by as much as 60 percent.

8.  Lack of Sleep.  Sleep deprivation increases the risk of obesity by boosting an appetite-stimulating hormone and lowering an appetite suppressor.  Another study found that, compared to eight hours of sleep, each hour decrease in sleep duration is linked to nearly three percent more body fat.

9.  “Cluelessness.”  Many of us are simply unaware of calories or fat values, which leads to weight gain and unhealthy eating habits.

10.  Credit Card Usage.  Visa studied 100,000 fast-food restaurant transactions and found that people who pay for their food with a credit card spend nearly one-third more than those who pay with cash.  For the average person who eats fast food once a week and pays with plastic, the result is an extra approximately 17,000 calories—or five pounds a year!

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