Dr. Carl Miller
7 April 2011
“The bigger the better” is not always necessarily true. In America, the amount of citizens overweight is rapidly increasing as the age of overweight people is decreasing. Although there is no specific cure, this disease can be lowered by attacking a diverse amount of contributing factors. The adolescent obesity epidemic can be controlled by lowering the price of healthy foods, enforce stricter health education in schools, and address the problems at home. One solution to America’s obesity epedimic is to lower the price of fruits and vegetables. The amount of fast food consumed is at an all time high and is constantly growing. America has a heavy dependency on fast food, which is “estimated to be 187kcal per day” (Flodmark 5). The production of fast food, also known as conventional food, places a burden on the environment. The fertilizer and chemicals used to develop the maximum amount of crop from a field pollutes the environment all over. When it rains, run offs from the Midwest fields lead into the Gulf of Mexico, which contribute to a giant dead zone of almost no sea life. This effects the fishing industry majorly and causes a loss of 212,000 tons of seafood every year (Walsh 34). Another flaw of the fast food industry is the conditions in which the livestock are raised. In the conventional food system, thousands of cattle and pigs “are kept in close concentrated conditions and fattened up for slaughter as fast as possible, contributing to efficiencies of scale and thus low prices” (Walsh 34). Although it has many negative outcomes, the popularity of fast food is mainly due to its extremely low prices. Fruits and vegetables are more expensive than grains; therefore the cost of cheap conventional food compared to the cost of organic food “is a principal cause of America’s obesity epidemic” (Walsh 32). As a result of cheap, calorie-heavy conventional foods, “Americans spend less than 10% of their incomes on food” (Walsh 33). With a suffering economy, American citizens are more prone to buying the cheapest thing available, which is fast food. However, the financial difference of healthy food compared to organic food ends up balancing to be equal because “obesity adds $147 billion a year to our doctor bills” (Walsh 32). In addition, lowering the price of healthy foods to match the price of conventional foods will allow citizens to make healthier choices. A study shows that “lowering the price of fresh fruit and vegetables by 50% increased sales by two- to fourfold in high-school cafeterias” (Flodmark 5). Taking multiple steps that deal with the prices of fresh food versus fast food will show immediate results.
Another way to lower the obesity epidemic is by fixing the flaws in the nation’s current school-based health system. One of the requirements the government places on the U.S. school system is teaching health education. American schools require the minimal amount of health education classes in order to receive a diploma. Although the current system requires health education, it only requires the minimum amount. In order for a health education program to be successful, the school-based obesity prevention programs need to have a multi- strategic approach that includes both mind and body. One reason school health education programs are failing is due to focusing only on physical activity. The Teen Eating and Activity Mentoring in Schools (TEAMS) project presents a new health education program that involves nutrition education, programs to increase physical activity, and school environmental changes (Daratha 2). When testing teens’ concepts of health, TEAMS concluded that adolescents focused on short-term consequences such as energy level, athletic performance, and appearance (Daratha 2). An educational improvement is enforcing computer assistance for implementing obesity guidelines and to promote the implementation of current...