Getting older and wider

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John O'Connor, Editorial Director
John O'Connor, Editorial Director
I have a friend who says America is the only country where poor people are fat. Well, it's not just the poor anymore.
The next time you are in a public place — say a restaurant or a mall — take a good look around.

Chances are pretty good you'll see a lot of people who look like they are on their way to Lotto Ball tryouts. Chances are also pretty good you won't wait too long before the waddling begins. The fact is, we have become a nation addicted to the lethal combination of sedentary lifestyles and frequent food breaks.

Those of us born between from 1946 to 1964 — the so-called baby boomers — are the worst offenders. As a person with a larger than average-sized foot in both camps, I know where to point the fork, er, finger. Right at the mirror.

Our obesity is our own fault. Far too many of us grew up eating food that was loaded with salt, fat and other tasty but unhealthy ingredients. And the chicken sandwiches are coming home to roost.

It's hardly a coincidence that this publication is receiving more product releases aimed at bariatric residents. These include beds, chairs and lifts that promise they won't buckle under 600 pounds or more of single human being. Yes, 600 pounds.

If a newly-released Associated poll is any indication, it looks like such vendors are about to get busy. Only about a quarter of the responding boomers work up a sweat four or five times a week.

Worse still, 37% never do any of the strength training so crucial to fighting aging-related muscle loss. That's bad now. And it is going to mean your typical resident may be a lot wider in the future.

Luckily, all is not lost. Roughly three in five boomers polled say they're dieting to lose weight, and slightly more are eating more fruits and vegetables or cutting cholesterol and salt.

But as those who have been losing the battle of the bulge can attest, losing pounds requires physical activity. Even if you are not overweight, a more active lifestyle can help stave off the mobility problems that accompany a trip to middle age and beyond.

If you are like me, the time has come to start putting one foot in front of the other. Just make sure they don't lead you to the ice cream parlor.