April 8, 2013
Obesity in America
Obesity is a common disease in the United States that has many causes and consequences. Genetics, the environment and the media are all common causes of obesity leading to health problems as well as economic issues. Another variable that contributes to obesity, less obvious than diet and heredity, is social networking (Schaefer 106). Today, over two-thirds of Americans fall into the categories of being overweight or obese. This number has more then doubled over the past three decades. In reality, America’s obesity-inducing environment, the sustained changes in behavior required to lose the weight and keep it off are simply too difficult and are becoming more difficult all the time (Zuckerman).
Lets first understand the difference between overweight and obesity. Being overweight means weighing too much. Obesity means having too much body fat. Your body mass index (BMI) is calculated by a person’s height and weight. In most cases, the higher the BMI the higher you are at risk of a disease. Both of these terms mean a person’s weight is higher then is should be, putting them at a greater risk with health issues. These health risks are as following: coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, hypertension, dyslipidemia, stroke, liver and gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, osteoarthritis and gynecological problems. More than 80 percent of people in America that have Type 2 Diabetes is obese or overweight (ObesityinAmerica).
Genes play a role in the development of obesity. Our genes regulate how our body’s capture, store and release energy from food (ObesityinAmerica). Studies of resemblances and differences among family members, twins, and adoptees offer indirect scientific evidence that a sizable portion of the variation in weight among adults is due to genetic factors (ObesityinAmerica). Health care practitioners routinely collect family health history to help identify people at high risk of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some forms of cancer (ObesityinAmerica).
Two interesting gene candidates have been found in mouse experiments, the ob and the db gene, the products of which are probably a satiety hormone and its receptor, respectively, which regulate food intake.
Type 2 Diabetes is developed when the body does not produce enough insulin. Leading up to obesity, the body begins to overproduce insulin in order to regulate a person’s blood sugar levels. Eventually, the body is unable to achieve the appropriate sugar levels in the body, which results in Type 2 Diabetes.
Environmental factors also contribute to the obesity epidemic. Human ecologists focus on how the physical environment shapes people’s lives and on how people influence the surrounding environment (Schaefer 425). According to ecologists, ecological changes in our food and diet have been related to early obesity and diabetes (Schaefer 425). It is very important to create an environment in certain locations, which make it easier to engage in physical activity and balance a healthy diet. Poverty, living conditions, location, lifestyles and the access to fast food are environmental factors that impact obesity.
People have the ability to control what they eat and how much physical activity they get, but the problem could be the environment around them are not supportive of their choices. The people around them, such as their family and friends, influence these choices. The environment would provide a safe place for exercise, but if it lacks a place for exercise this would only deter people from getting the amount of physical activity that is needed for their health. Today, most people drive to work and school because they are simply too far to walk. Many communities are not built around a safe environment where people can engage in physical activity. Another way the environment can be a factor of obesity is...