Obesity big concern in New Mexico

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Obesity is huge in New Mexico — and it’s growing, according to the state’s Department of Health.

Statistics state more than 20 percent of all adults in the Land of Enchantment can be classified as obese, up from less than 10 percent in 1990.

Those who are overweight constitute about 30 percent, statistics say, making more than half of New Mexico’s population in need of losing weight.

The problem is not confined to adults either, as health officials say 24 percent of high school students are already overweight or at risk of becoming so.

Keeping fit is not only about aesthetics, either. “Obesity is a significant risk factor for a variety of chronic diseases,” the department said on its Web site. In addition to cancer and arthritis, it reports a major risk is that of diabetes and its related complications, such as stroke, cardiovascular disease, kidney problems, amputation and blindness.

Since October, Quay County’s extension service has been making the public aware of healthier eating habits and diabetic cooking with a series of articles and workshops.

Their next “On the Road to Living Well with Diabetes” will be held at 1 p.m. and again at 5:15 p.m. on Jan. 23 at the extension office in the Quay County courthouse. It will include five tests and numbers needed to prevent complications from diabetes, according to Brenda Bishop, Quay’s home economist. Pre-registration for the workshop is required.

Other programs include a “Fat Detective” workshop at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 and diabetic meal planning at 2 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. on Jan. 31, also at the extension office.
Bishop also pointed out a huge factor in the increase in America’s weight is portion control.

“How do you know a reasonable portion of food when you see it?” Bishop asked. “You can start by getting your eyeball back in shape. Get out the measuring cups and measure some food.”
She said most products come with suggestion serving sizes and a good way to start is by adhering to them.

“Eating the planned amount will provide us with the calories we need for our bodies to run efficiently. But we are so used to larger portions, our eyes want more than we actually need,” Bishop said.

She suggested when eating out, order the normal size portion rather than a “super size” anything. Perhaps share an entrée with a friend, she said, or ask for half the meal packed to go for lunch the next day.

When snacking at home, Bishop said to avoid eating directly out of the bag or container and to purchase single portions of snack food so temptation does not beckon. She also suggested substituting half the amount as usual of mayonnaise, cheese or cream cheese and save even more calories by using low-fat versions.