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Ebola Hysteria versus Obesity Epidemic

While it’s possible, it is very rare for us to contract a fatal virus that would quickly put us in our grave like Ebola. Yet if you follow the news, the Ebola hysteria has been a popular topic of discussion and worry. Meanwhile, the obesity epidemic has been growing (pun intended) over the past few decades but we don’t seem concerned at all.

chance of ebola vs. obesityTake a look at these stats:

1990: roughly 1 in 10 people were considered obese.
2000: 1 in 4
2010: 1 in 3

ONE in THREE people! Those are VERY high odds especially when you think of the odds of contracting Ebola: 1 in 13 million… that’s about 0.00000007%. It makes sense that we aren’t freaking out about preventing obesity because it’s a slow onset. Obesity isn’t something that’s caught like Ebola but rather it creeps up in the form of gradual weight gain. We don’t just wake up 30 pounds heavier, thank goodness. You may not notice 5 pound weight gain in one year, but a 20-pound weight gain in 4 years will be noticeable!

I’ve mentioned the financial cost of obesity-related surgeries like hip and knee replacements but consider the toll it also takes on quality of life. You can’t put a dollar sign on joy; chasing our kids without getting out of breath, approaching a flight of stairs without thinking twice about if you will make it up without taking a break, or actually enjoying retirement when it finally comes. As a dietitian, I love teaching people how to eat right but I’m always reminding my readers that nutrition and fitness are areas that take discipline, perseverance, and patience.

I think it’s safe to say that most of you who follow this blog are more financially savvy than the average American, but let me ask you this: how are you investing in your health? It’s an appropriate question to ask because your health will affect your finances and retirement. It’s easy to set up direct deposit into our investments but how easy is it for you to pass up all the leftover Halloween candy that has been invading our places of work and our homes? We take steps to ensure our future financial health but what about our physical health?

I want to give you 3 practical tips that can help you prevent the weight from creeping up with the holiday season approaching.

1. Set goals

I was never a goal-setter until I started Budget for Health three years ago.  I’m amazed at how many financial goals I’ve reached in a few years and it wouldn’t have happened as quickly if we hadn’t set goals. I’ve even started to make monthly fitness, personal, and financial goals for myself and it really helps with motivation. It doesn’t have to be a big goal; if you don’t exercise at all then a goal for you could be to go for a 10 minute walk after dinner or during your lunch break.

2. Seek community

When someone knows your goal then you create accountability. I often do this when Dave and I are heading to a potluck. Simply verbalizing that my goal is to only have one dessert can make a huge difference. Otherwise my sweet tooth leads me to take one of every dessert that people bring!

3. Give yourself grace

How many times have you set a goal and then threw it out the window because you missed a workout or ate dessert when you said you wouldn’t? Treat each day as a clean slate and give yourself some grace.

Ebola doesn’t scare me. What scares me is that our population is becoming heavier, yet there isn’t much prevention happening on an individual level. Let’s enjoy the upcoming holidays and set ourselves up to enjoy many more in the future by protecting our health and quality of life. If you need help setting nutrition goals I’d love to be a resource.

How are you investing in your health? How will you take action with the holidays approaching?

This post has been written by Jessica from



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. This is a classic example of how our priorities are backwards in the US. We are killing ourselves with lack of activity and fatty food, but we’re more concerned that someone with Ebola just might be waiting around the corner. I do feel for the people who have suffered with the virus, but if we spend a fraction of the resources and publicity on obesity and it’s consequences, maybe we could improve quality of life and lessen mortality. It’s too easy to get a pill instead of working hard to be healthy.

    • Yup, unfortunately people are making themselves too busy to just eat right and exercise. Everyone is so concerned about the killer virus that barely anyone is contracting, and they aren’t stopping to think about the affects of their obesity. This is becoming a serious problem.

    • It’s hard figuring out where to start when it comes to obesity prevention. Good habits need to be formed and bad ones broken which takes time and discipline. Thanks for your input!

  2. You’re right on the money with this. I understand the hysteria surrounding Ebola (it reminds me of that film with Dustin Hoffman and the infected monkey) because scientists will come up with figures to suggest that it could take over the globe in a matter of days if we don’t tackle it, but there are many things which kill people every day which we accept as part of life: obesity, depression, cancer, alcohol, road accidents… we seem to lose perspective when it’s a microbe.

  3. Outbreak? You’re right, we do tend to lose perspective. Obesity prevention is an ongoing process so it doesn’t keep our attention like trending topics.

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