Trust for America's Health forecasted that 44 percent of Americans will be overweight by 2030. Many of us will dismiss the report said the organization's Executive Director Jeff Levi. “The initial reaction is to say, ‘Oh it couldn’t be that bad.’" Obesity rates are increasing in states like Colorado, Minnesota, Washington and West Virginia according to the report. Nine of the 11 states with the highest obesity percentages are in the South and in the Midwest. People who are obese are at a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and arthritis. There are theories as to the reasons. One speculation is that people with a lower income can't afford supermarket food and they may shop at a dollar store to buy packaged meals like macaroni and cheese and hot dogs for a buck because it's more affordable. Then it becomes a cycle of unhealthy eating and weight gain. There are many other variables that cause people to gain weight, but mostly it's their bad practices. Consider the following bad habits contributing to your expanding waistline.

We over snack.

Americans love to snack and they do it often and then they wonder why they are gaining weight. An estimated 95 percent of Americans snack and it's replacing daily meals for some people. Half of the adults in America snack 2 to 3 times a day, but they also snack at night, which causes weight gain. An estimated 12 percent of night eaters consume 10 percent more calories than people who did not eat at night.
You do burn fewer calories when you sleep than when you are active during the day. If you eat a piece of cake at night and have already maxed out your calories, you're going to gain weight. Adults who have 4 or more snacks in a day "Consume almost one and one-half times as many calories as do adults who report no snacks," National Health and the Nutrition Examination Survey found.

Eating from the bag or carton.

When you eat from a bag of potato chips or from a carton of ice cream, the intake will be massive. This typically happens when you are mindlessly eating in front of the television, while you're talking on the phone or sitting at your desk at work. When you eat from any packaging, you're not using any portion control. Try portioning snacks in moderately sized containers instead and become more mindful when you're eating. If needed, carry with you healthy snacks like almonds that are already portioned for an energy boost.

You're intaking too much sugar.

Sugar is a major source of empty calories in our diets. People who consume a lot of sugar are more likely to be overweight. Most people are receiving most of their sugar fix through their drinks. The rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. Havard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reported a 20-ounce soda has up to 18 teaspoons of sugar, a 64-ounce fountain cola drink could have up to 500 calories. The Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital did a 20-year study following 120,000 people and found that those who increased their sugary drink consumption "By a 12-ounce serving per day gained more weight over time—on average, an extra pound every 4 years—than people who did not change their intake." Outside of choosing healthier drinks, pay attention to your food labels. Scan labels before you add it to the cart. Take the time to find out how much sugar is in your food before buying it.

Eating out.

Going out to eat is easier and more convenient, but it can pack on the weight. The appetizers, bread baskets, pasta bowls, buffets and big portions can really hinder a diet. When you get together with friends, this will boost those calories by 35 percent as you are chatting and don't realize how much you're eating and drinking. For those who are more aware, many of the nutritional information listed at restaurants are not accurate. According to TIME magazine, "Prepared foods contain an average of 8 percent more calories than their package labels own up to and restaurant meals may contain 18 percent more." When dining out, eat salads with the dressing on the side and drink plenty of water to fill you up. Avoid appetizers which can add up to 500 calories or more before you get to the main course and if you drink alcohol try a glass of red or white wine that is 100 calories or a dirty martini (176 calories) instead.

Emotional eating.

There are many reasons we emotionally eat. This includes being depressed, hating our bodies, being bored, sad, lonely or feeling fatigued. You may believe that food eases pain and discomfort and for many, eating accomplishes this. When you have a craving or have a feeling that you're not comfortable with, offering the body positive reinforcement when you eat is the answer. This lights up the pleasure centers in the brain and you begin to feel more comfortable. But this is not healthy. Make a list of the activities to do to replace emotional eating when it starts tempting you. You can go for a walk, do a puzzle or read a book to switch gears. Also, choose healthy foods to sustain you through the day. Try eating vegetables, cereals, yogurts, eggs and peanut butter to keep hunger at bay.

Dieting takes more than willpower, it takes a village. You will need support from family and friends to encourage you to keep going. You can search for community groups and buddies that will keep you on track. More importantly, now you may discover why you're gaining the weight and how you can fix it.

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