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John Cosgrove
Causal Analysis

It’s sweeping the nation, it’s affecting over 60% of U.S. adults, and it’s even labeled as a disease: its obesity. Obesity has become one of the most prevalent issues in American society and is related to many leading causes of death such as heart disease and diabetes. The reason it has become such a ubiquitous problem is because the rate of obese Americans has more than doubled since the 1980’s. But what else has significantly changed since the 1980’s, the food market industry. The food market industry is a key element of obesity but not 100% of the problem. I think the root of obesity can be traced back to three main components: unhealthy food, lack of exercise and the marketing of the unhealthy food.

To begin with, the main cause of obesity is the unhealthy food available to the average American. Unhealthy food does not only include fast food but also junk food and snacks that are readily available at any school and supermarket. All these junk foods consist of is mainly fat, sugar and salt and not much else. Fat is the leading component for obesity and heart disease and sugar leads to diabetes and addiction. Yes, that’s right, addiction. Studies are beginning to come out that are linking the high levels of sugar in junk food to addiction. “There are brain-imaging studies in humans and a variety of animal studies showing that sugar acts on the brain very much like morphine, alcohol and nicotine” (Brownell). The effect of sugar obviously is not as strong as any drug but the underlying idea remains the same. There are reward pathways in the brain that are activated by the release of dopamine when something pleasurable is done such as drinking a sugar filled beverage or eating candy. Did you ever think maybe the reason you wanted that Coke over water is because the Coke actually pleased you more? So besides the fact that fast food and junk food is detrimental to your health it is also difficult to stop eating it, creating a vicious cycle of overeating unhealthy food which in turn can lead to a weight problem. But, the food is not the only reason for obesity.

The next ingredient in the obesity recipe is the lack of exercise by most people that are overweight. Exercise is very important to staying in shape and maintaining a stout physique. But, exercise does not only mean going to the gym or taking a jog. Exercise in general is just physical activity. Playing a pick-up game of football with some friends is or even going hiking are forms of exercise. The amount of exercise or physical activity endured by Americans has decreased over the past few decades. The two main reasons for this are the advancements in technology for the entertainment industry, such as video games and television, and the internet. Video games have become a huge form of entertainment in our society nowadays. Instead of playing in that pick-up game of football you’d rather play your friends in a game of Madden on Xbox Live. Sure, video games aren’t terrible to play once in a while but they have become so vast and improved so much in the past decade that people find themselves staying inside more to play them rather than exercising or just going out in general. The other reason people stay inside more and exercise less is because of the internet. The internet has become so big in the past decade that you can pretty much do anything you can think of on it. Talk with old friends, read the latest news and even find jobs. Even television and its hundreds of HD channels that are now available can be linked to lack of exercise. The average American, in fact, spends 55% of his waking hours sitting down. And when Americans sit, they are often perched in front of a video display, either a workplace computer or a living room TV (Harvard Men’s Health Watch). The entertainment industry is ever-growing and will continue to distract us from staying in shape.

Lastly, the marketing of the unhealthy...
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