Fit or Fat? Do we have a choice?
According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, one-third of the United States diet consists of junk or fast food (Allison). Obesity is the “abnormal accumulation of body fat, usually twenty percent or more over an individual's ideal body weight” (Greenblatt). Obesity is becoming an overwhelming epidemic in America. It is more prevalent in African Americans, American-Indians, and children (Richards). In fact, nearly two out of three Americans are overweight or obese and the number of overweight children has tripled over the last twenty years (Greenblatt). Due to obesity, there are many deaths or life threatening effects in America. According to Greenblatt, individuals who are obese have a 50 to 100 percent increased risk of premature death from all causes, compared to those with a healthy weight. Moreover, they discovered that about one of every eight deaths in America is caused by an illness started by obesity (Allison). A stronger focus on solutions is vital in controlling the obesity epidemic. Rather than taking the easy way out by buying cheap fast food, people need to be taught how to save their money and recognize the negative effects of vast fast food intake. Allison, Fontaine, and Manson used data from numerous studies to estimate the number of deaths attributable to obesity in the United States on an annual basis. Their studies reveal that in 1991, the “average deaths due to obesity equaled 324,940; but, after controlling preexisting disease, deaths equaled 374,239” (Allison). This epidemic causes many health issues; including, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type two diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, depression, and poor female reproductive health (Greenbatt). Americans can see this first hand through the documentary “Supersize Me.” Morgan Spurlock decided to go on a thirty-day eating plan where he ate fast food for three meals a day and upon asking if he would like his meal supersized, he had to say yes. Shockingly, he gained 24.5 pounds, his liver turned to fat, and his cholesterol shot up sixty-five points (Supersize Me). Not only did Spurlock feel depressed, exhausted, and moody, he states that he has a minimal sex drive and craves the various un-nutritional food he is currently consuming (Supersize Me). A contributing factor to obesity is that food prices have spiked due to drought and high oil prices, which is used for transportation. Although families need make better food decisions, lower-income families can not afford to buy healthier food (Beydoun). Due to farm subsidies, Americans find it difficult to afford healthier options. Healthy meals are practically unaffordable if you make eight or less dollars an hour (Beydoun). According to Weeks, “millions of consumers, especially people with low incomes, have trouble obtaining affordable and nutritious foods because they live in areas with few, if any, large grocery stores or supermarkets, or lack transportation” (Weeks). Previous studies suggest that some areas and households have easier access to fast food restaurants and convenience stores, but limited access to supermarkets, thus they need to learn how and where to properly spend money (Richards). In 1970, Americans spent about 6 billion dollars on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than 110 billion dollars. According to May Beydoun, in “The Association of Fast Food, Fruit and Vegetable Prices with Dietary Intakes among US Adults", “Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars” (Beydoun). Moreover, between 1980 and 1990, the proportion of food dollars spent away from home showed a sharp upward trend, from twenty-six to thirty-seven percent (Beydoun). The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts a raise in food prices mostly due to extensive drought (Weeks). Limited access to nutritious food and relatively easier access to less...
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