Obesity in America Paper with Ethical Issues

Topics: Nutrition, Obesity, Health Pages: 8 (2644 words) Published: November 15, 2012
Ethical Issues Paper: Obesity in America


Within our nation, one of the many growing health problems is the increasing amount children that are considered to be obese. Due to poor nutrition, food issues, and lack of physical activity; America has seen a dramatic increase in obesity. Obesity is a worldwide problem and threatens our nation's social, economic, and physical health. Obesity will also continue to be a major problem facing America. It will continue to drag our economy down through various factors such as lower productivity and rising health costs unless we make a change.

Obesity is defined as an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to an individual’s health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Overweight and obesity are interrelated and include a risk of factors for chronic diseases. Some factors include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Recommended weight standards are based on body mass index (BMI), which is a calculation of weight relative to height. The obesity index states that any individual at an index of 30 or more is considered to be obese.

The obesity epidemic affects a wide range of adults and children, which are faced with environmental factors that contribute to the overall obesity epidemic in America. More than one third of U.S. adults are obese. But obesity also affects children; approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) children are obese. Adults often times work for long hours in front of computers or in sedentary positions, and Children are also sedentary whether it is in school, in front of the television, or playing a game. Across America, it is clear that people are getting heavier. But the important aspect is that it doesn’t affect all communities equally. Some influencing factors are that physical education is influenced by the state, and is not mandatory for most states. Also, obesity affects some groups more than others. According to the CDC, non-Hispanic blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity (49.5%).

Another important factor is the consumption of fatty foods. The amount of fatty foods is increasing to alarming rates. Fast food burgers are cheaper than vegetables (and more convenient) and the consumption of food in schools is lacking dietary guidelines. Children often times are consuming too much sugar from carbonated beverages but are unaware that juice may have just about the same amount of sugar. Let’s move America stated that children thirty years ago ate only one snack a day, whereas today they’re trending towards three snacks which is an additional 200 calories a day. Also portion sizes are now two to five times bigger than they were in years past and the average sugar sweetened beverage was 13.6 ounces (1970) compared to todays 20 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages at a time.

According to the CDC approximately 72.5 million American adults are obese, making America the highest obesity rate in the world. In addition, this number is actually estimated to be lower than the actual rates because statistics are only based upon self-reported height involving BMI. Due to the high rates of obesity, annual medical costs in the U.S. are as high as $147 billion; on average obese people have medical costs that are $1429 more than medical costs of normal weight people.

In addition to dragging down our economy through various factors such as lower productivity and rising health costs, we also face the impact on health systems and medical costs which have both direct and indirect costs. Direct medical costs include preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services, while indirect costs relate to the loss of income (from decreased productivity), restricted activity, absenteeism, and the income lost from premature death.

Ethical Issues

The rights approach can be met by individuals. Every person has the right to make his or her own decisions. There will always be others who may suggest a way of life...
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