Two very fat men enter an ice cream shop. They sit down and order two giant sundaes. After enjoying their rich desserts, they go to a health club and have a good workout. They're trying to work off all those calories they ate. Who would be so silly? Some Americans would. When it comes to health and fitness, Americans have mixed emotions. On the one hand, they are concerned about their health. On the other, they have some very unhealthy habits.
Americans know the benefits of having a healthy diet. In school, children learn to eat a variety of healthy foods. People grow up aware of the value of counting calories. They hear about the health dangers of chemicals added to packaged food. They realize they shouldn't eat too many sweets or fats. Many American consumers read labels carefully for nutrition information. That way they can compare products and eat the best foods.
Keeping fit -- or maybe getting in shape -- is often high on the list of New Year's resolutions for Americans. In the past two decades, fitness has become a fad. Many Americans have joined health clubs to work out with professional equipment. Sports stores sell athletic shoes and clothing for every possible exercise situation. People can even buy weights and equipment and set up their own exercise center at home!
Statistics give health experts good reason to be disappointed. Americans exercise less than they used to. The number of people taking part in fitness activities dropped from 41.7 million in 1991 to only 32 million in 1993. Among high school students, only 37 percent exercise three times per week. However, 70 percent of teenagers watch at least an hour of TV every day, and 38 percent watch over three hours. As a result, the average American gained eight pounds during the 1980's. At least one-third of Americans weigh 20 percent more than their ideal weight.Nottinghamshire
Still, by many standards, Americans enjoy good health. Medical care in the United States, while expensive, is among the best in the world. The U.S. Government requires strict food inspections to ensure that food is of the highest quality. Food producers must label products accurately. Many resources, such as magazines, TV programs and even the Internet, allow people to find out how to improve their health. Americans know how to make themselves more healthy. They just need to do it.