Weight Management Industry
According to America's Health Rankings survey, conducted by the United Health Foundation, U.S. citizens rank as the most obese country out of the 150 industrialized nations evaluated; and at more than TWICE the rate of most other countries. Even more alarming, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports two out of every three adults in the U.S. are either overweight or obese.
Experts are saying that the current economic crisis could intensify the overweight and obesity epidemic. Food prices, particularly for more nutritious foods, are expected to rise, making it more difficult for families to eat healthy foods. Estimates of how much prices will increase vary, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects an overall increase in food prices of 3 to 4% during 2010. These estimates are based on increases in supermarket prices of 2.5 to 3.5%, and increases in prices of food consumed away from the home at rates of 3.5 to 4.5%.
If higher food costs aren't enough to drive poor food choices, new studies on obesity are revealing more contributing factors. In one long-term study reported on WebMD, researchers followed more than 4,000 subjects for almost two decades in one of the longest studies ever to examine the impact of mental health upon obesity. The results showed that people who suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions are more likely to gain weight over time and become obese than people who don't. And unfortunately, rates of depression, anxiety, and stress caused by strain in the economy are at an all time high.
According to an American Psychological Association poll in September 2009, 80% of those interviewed, reported the economy to be causing significant stress – a significant raise from 66% in 2008. The National Sleep Foundation said 27% of those surveyed last fall had sleeplessness due to economic anxiety. Consequently, experts are worried that growing mental health issues, involving anxiety and depression, will only escalate the obesity epidemic.
Digestive Health Industry
Another health ailment triggered by the anxiety and stress associated with our current economic state, is poor digestive health. Although it may be news to many, stress greatly affects digestion. Whether you're anxious about the stock market, nervous about a job interview, or fretting over finances, digestive discomfort is an all too common experience. Human responses to fear, anxiety, and stress, it turns out, are directly wired to the gut. There is a real connection within our physiology, linking our nervous system to the digestive tract. In fact, research has identified nerve fibers in the gut that are so extensive and complex, they sometimes refer to it as the "gut brain." Stress plays a key role in digestive conditions, including heartburn, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, and even Crohn's disease.
Digestive health has been slowly moving toward the forefront of the public health forum, as the burden of digestive problems on the U.S. Health Care System rise. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 60 to 70 million Americans are affected each year by digestive problems at a cost that exceeds $100 billion in relief, treatment, and medical expenses. In fact, a new study conducted by The Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition reveals that nearly half of Americans, estimated at 46%, say digestive problems affect their day-to-day lives and prevent them from getting a full night's sleep, going out to eat, exercising, and even socializing with friends.
Today, the good news is, Americans are paying more attention to their digestive health than ever before. In fact, according to the Food and Health Survey of 2007, more than 80% say they are currently consuming or would be interested in consuming digestive health products for health and wellness benefits.