MONDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- America may be seen as a land of plenty, but some experts are beginning to believe that plenty may have become too much.
Cheap and convenient food, busy work and social lives and a constant barrage from media sources have overloaded Americans and are having a detrimental effect on their mental and physical health, according to Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-director of the UCLA Center for Community Health and the Global Center for Children and Families.
All of this prosperity goes against the survival instincts that human beings adopted as they evolved, said Rotheram-Borus, who teaches a class at the UCLA Family Commons titled "Too Much? How to Do Less & Enjoy More."
"We were groomed for millennia to survive on too little," she said. "We didn't have enough food. We didn't have enough clothing. Our genetic code was built on those who could survive adversity."
But because it's ingrained in human nature to enjoy what you have when you have it, people may have taken too well to having too much.
Cheap fast food has led to Americans eating an average of 1,000 more calories a day than they need, Rotheram-Borus said. Constant media exposure creates stress while also numbing people to normal human interaction. And to pay for it all, people are working longer hours and enduring longer commutes.
Dr. Felicia Wong, a Los Angeles psychiatrist and a member of the American Psychiatric Association, said that the advent of text messaging and smart phones has added to people's stress because they "create a pressure to be constantly available" that used to be endured only by doctors, police officers, firefighters and other professionals who spend much of their lives on call.
"Everyone is on call every minute of their lives now," she said. "There's no wonder peop
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