Obesity in America
Obesity is an increasingly awkward public health concern amongst all ages especially those who are morbidly obese. The condition has indiscriminately cut across racial, ethical, sex, age and socioeconomic groups and although detecting it is easy, it is very hard to treat. Obesity is a sophisticated challenge that scientists are struggling to understand and there are various causes regarded as responsible including genetics, combinations of hormonal, metabolic, and behavioral aspects (Bassett et al. 24-28). It is quite challenging doctors to understand why an individual accumulates excess fat in the body and reasons behind the sharp rise of the condition in the industrialized world. Obesity epidemic is of a great concern in the United States because of the serious health challenges it is associated with and is believed to be caused by several things including scientific reasons, environmental factors, and psychological issues.
Although obesity may not pose as a serious disease compared to other contagious diseases such as flu and irreversible such as AIDs or even deadly ones like cancer, there are higher probability of heart-related diseases, depression, diabetes, and premature aging of the body associated with it. Obesity may start at a tender age as evident in many parts of America because many children are overweight. However, the children’s family who do not encourage them to be active and do enough exercise as well as living healthy life may contribute the problem (Preston and Andrew 2137-2143). Some of the reasons that make U.S one of the obese countries in the world are obvious including increase utilization of fast food, technology use, high stress level, and other social and behavioral factors.
According to Bassett et al., increase and expansion of fast-food restaurant in America that serve more than 50 million Americans per day largely causes obesity amongst US population (24-28). Some of the fast food companies include McDonald, Jack in the Box and Wendy that provides cheaper fast food that greatly attracts many Americans. Most people prefer quick, easy, and cheap meals that turn out unhealthy (Ali 93-97). A good number of American populations tend to eat substantial fast food and soft drinks such as French fries, pizza, cheeseburgers and Coca cola that are amongst the top metabolism inhibitors in the current society.
Consuming fast food is triggered by many factors including heavy advertising attached to it and minimization of health concerns attributed to the food by the companies (Bassett et al., 24-28). Fast food manufacturers spend heavily in advertising their products thus occupying various forms of advertising media, an aspect that makes larger population to be aware of them. Americans are lured to consumption of junk food that has replaced the desire for organic food hence decreasing metabolism. It is therefore clear that Americans’ poor eating habits has negatively influenced their weights and the quantity of fat in their bodies because the fast food industry has slowly become one of the Americans cultures (Vos et al. 1587-94).
Stress is another factor contributing to weight gain in America because several Americans are worried of finances, family, health, and issues about home that causes stress and eventually overweight (Hojjat Web). There are many things to do that Americans do not take their time to relax and eliminate stress. Increase in stress largely contributes to overweight that eventually lead to obesity. Moreover, the nature of work people do in America contributes to overweight especially jobs that see people relaxing and burning less fat. Most Americans also either do not do exercises because they are too lazy to do exercise or are occupied by other things they deem significant (Preston and Andrew 2137-2143). Many Americans sit in front the televisions while youths and teens love playing high-tech and exciting video games. Activities most people engage in involve little movement, an aspect that proves very risky to human body.
Preston and Andrew explain that society’s contribution to obesity is evident and therefore being obese is not just a personal problem because it is ripened into a huge social challenge (2137-2143). The age of modern living and technology has seen growing cases of obesity thus making it a fully grown social problem and a much talked about issue in the current era. There is notion of modernization of current living that although benefits the society to a certain level, it directs us to the pit of obesity. There are issues such as genetically modified food and junk foods that have been contributed by the changing lifestyle that raises percentage of obese cases. Vos et al. explain that families play integral role in the society and because obesity is an outcome of addictive eating, lack of physical exercise, stress and lack of awareness of medical and social problems, families can always control the rise of obesity cases (1587-94).
American society does not seem to promote habits that prevent obesity such as healthy eating and introduction of exercise habits. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity epidemic sees 35.7% of adults and 16.9% of children between ages 2 and 19 (Web). Childhood obesity accounts for almost 18% of deaths amongst American population of years between 40 and 85 caused by obesity related diseases. Families can take charge and engage in practices that may reduce the cases causing obesity. For instance, they may keep gardens and grow organic food that may provide the best solution because most people will shun fast food (Hojjat Web). Families may further introduce other practices such as introducing exercise amongst their children and other family members thus reducing activities such as playing video games and watching TV that tend to reduce metabolism rates. It is therefore apparent that families have all the responsibilities of either contributing or reducing the many obese cases.
Obesity, in American perspective is a great threat to the society because it contributes to death and other obesity related diseases. Most people are trying hard to adopt lifestyle and strategies to combat obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorizes some of the obesity related conditions as heart disease, stroke type 2 diabetes and some kinds of cancer that are very deadly in human life (Web). Estimated medical cost of obesity in the United States is very high and in 2008, CDC puts the cost at $ 147 billion. There is also perception that obesity affects some groups more than others where non-Hispanic blacks have the highest age adjusted rates of obesity at 49.5%, Mexican-Americans 40.4%, all Hispanics 39.1% and Non-Hispanic whites are the least in the obesity affection by groups at 34.3%. Moreover, obesity cases depend on socioeconomic status of individuals where the high earning individuals are found to be more likely to be obese compared to their low income counterparts although higher income women are less likely to be obese than low income women (Heshmat 77-85). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention further explain that there is no relationship existing between obesity and education amongst men as in the case of women (Web).
CDC asserts that obesity prevalence varies across different regions in America especially states and that there is no state with less than 20% prevalence (Web). It is well known amongst Americans that obesity is a multifaceted health concern involving both biological, behavioral, and environmental sources and energy imbalance acts as the primary cause of obesity challenge (Masters et al. 1895-901). However, many Americans do not seem to take the issue seriously. Although a few people have changed their food choices and eating habits, some are too reluctant to change. Many people do not also meet the recommended levels of moderate exercise and many more do not engage in leisure time activity. It is therefore worth noting that consumers and the entire American population play an insignificant role in reducing obesity cases. Overall energy expenditure has been reduced and most Americans feel that riding in a car is much better than walking to work. Behavior change poses a great challenge to most people who do not find it easy to change their diet and engage in exercise. Looking at the whole issue of obesity cases in America, the consumers are the greatest victim because of failure to change from their old habits and activities causing obesity to more healthy habits.
Consumers’ choices about food and lifestyle are core in addressing weight gain issues on individual level. According to Ali, consumer decisions are influenced by cultural, psychological, taste, quality, price, and convenience making it difficult for them to avoid the causes of obesity (93-97). Consumer attitude tends to differ to what they understand to be the right thing. Consumers are reluctant and are not ready to avoid behaviors encouraging healthy eating because they are confused about conflicting messages concerning fat, carbohydrates, protein and calories as well as general and reliable nutrition information that may make them responsible in their dietary decisions.
Hojjat believes that there is also food industry to be blamed in the higher rise of obesity cases because they tend to concentrate more on financial incentives than the plight of consumers (Web). Ali explains that most companies and food chains such as McDonald are only sensitive to consumer tastes and expectations instead of giving clear, consistent, and honest product claims that may help consumers make responsible decisions (93-97). Nutrition education and awareness amongst the public to meet individual nutritional needs and enhance consumer responsibility when it comes to consumption should be conducted.
It is undeniable that obesity is a great problem in America and it has greatly reduced the quality of life and the state of health. American popularity needs to be taught about the risk of fast food and other behaviors that tend to decrease metabolism. Food industry needs to be concerned with health challenges facing consumers and commit themselves to food products and improved old organic foods to supply various healthy alternatives (Bassett et al. 24-280. Food industries should encourage sale of food products that satisfies consumers’ variety of dietary needs and lifestyles after teaming up with government, academia, and health communities to fight obesity.
Several Americans have made attempts of fighting obesity battle in vain because of their desire and increased consumption of junk food and failure to achieve fitness goals (Heshmat 185-192). Most of the challenges that obese victims ought to deal with are very unfortunate and therefore adopting good behaviors and good life may be more fulfilling. Obesity is indeed an epidemic of great concern in the United States because of the serious health challenges it is associated with and is believed to be caused by several things including scientific reasons, environmental factors, and psychological issues.
Ali, Naheed. The Obesity Reality: A Comprehensive Approach to a Growing Problem. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012. Print.
Bassett et al. “Active Transportation and Obesity in Europe, North America, and Australia.” Institute of Transportation Engineers. ITE Journal 81.8 (2011): 24-8. ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and Obesity. USA.gov, 2012. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
Heshmat, Shahram. Eating Behavior and Obesity: Behavioral Economics Strategies for Health Professionals. New York: Springer Pub. Co, 2011. Print.
Hojjat, Tahereh Alavi. “THE ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF OBESITY”.ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.
Masters, Ryan et al. “The Impact of Obesity on US Mortality Levels: The Importance of Age and Cohort Factors in Population Estimates.” American Journal of Public Health 103.10 (2013): 1895-901. ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.
Preston, Samuel H., PhD., and Andrew Stokes A.M. “Contribution of Obesity to International Differences in Life Expectancy.” American Journal of Public Health 101.11 (2011): 2137-43. ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.
Vos, Rimke C., et al. “The Effect of Family-Based Multidisciplinary Cognitive Behavioral Treatment on Health-Related Quality of Life in Childhood Obesity.” Quality of Life Research 21.9 (2012): 1587-94. ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.