Obesity in America: the New Epidemic

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There is a huge problem spreading across this nation. It's affecting adults and children alike. It' this nation's newest epidemic, it has even been compared to other epidemics such as cigarettes and drugs. The epidemic is obesity and it is sweeping the nation. Americans are now considered to be the fattest people on earth (Pollan, par. 1). The worst part about this epidemic however is not how it is affecting adults but how it is affecting kids. The growing number of overweight kids is getting to be ridiculous. However, it is not these childrens' faults for their being overweight. There are many different factors that come into this equation. America's obsession with fast food and ever growing portion sizes, the amount of advertising to young children for food that is not healthy, and children's inactive lifestyles are all such factors. In addition, the physical and emotional effects on that obesity has on children are just as important. Americans spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software or new cars (Russo, par. 1 ). No wonder America is getting fat. This should not be a surprise to anyone, as one can find a McDonalds or a Burger King on every corner in just about every own. America has an obsession with fast food for three reasons. It's fast, it's cheap and it tastes good. Why would anyone not want to eat fast food? Most people know that it is terrible for you but to most people the positives in this equation outweigh the negatives. Americans also appreciate value; people in this country want to get the best value for their money. When one is looking at a menu of fast food items, most likely they will want the biggest bang for their buck. Why get one cheeseburger, a small fry and a drink when you can get two cheeseburgers, a large fry, and a large drink for just a dollar more. Most people would opt for the second choice. Most people in fact are choosing this second choice and it's having a huge effect on them. This is mostly due to the skyrocketing portions sizes, which have grown out of control. According to the news staff at www.CTV.ca, a study done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that since 1977, hamburgers have increased nearly 23%, with 97 more calories. French fries have grown by 16% and soft drinks by 52 %(2). With increases like this, it is no wonder that obesity is rampant throughout this country. Americans simply want more for their money. Another problem associated with these large portions is the amount of calories that are in a single meal. Some meals can be enough to fill one's full calorie intake for the day. Greg Critser, the author of "Fat Land" also states an important fact on these large portions: "People presented with larger portions will eat up to 30 percent more than the y otherwise would. Human hunger is apparently quite elastic, which makes excellent evolutionary sense: it behooved our hunter-gatherer ancestors to feast whenever the opportunity presented itself, thereby storing reserves of fat against future famine. Researchers call this trait "the thrifty gene." The problem is that in an era of fast –food abundance, the opportunity for feasting now presents itself 24/7."

Americans need to wake up and realize that they may be saving money but they are paying a bigger price that they may not realize: their health.
"I laugh because my 2 and 4 year old sons can pick the arches out at least a half a mile away. They can't read at all. But they know those golden arches. If it was up to them, we'd eat there every day." (Emilia, 1) When kids are two and can recognize McDonalds, this shows the power of advertising. Advertising is a very powerful tool in this country used to market food products. Many of these products are not the healthiest things growing kids can eat. Marketing to children is a multibillion dollar industry. Businesses spend 13 billion a year marketing food and drinks to U.S. children and their parents,...
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