Technology: Friend or Foe

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Technology, Friend or Foe?
What is the one aspect of a human's life that can either help to keep him alive or be the ultimate killer? The answer is technology. With the advances in modern technology, which promote excess food consumption and ever more sedentary lifestyles of the average human, our society has gone from America the big and powerful, to America the big and fat. It was only a couple of decades ago when the American man weighed an average of 168 pounds. Now he weighs nearly 180 pounds. The same is true for the American woman. The average has risen from 143 pounds to over 155 pounds. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). In 1970 the percent of people that were classified as medically obese or overweight was 14 percent. Now those numbers are over two times that rate (National Health Survey).

The United States has been growing larger throughout the past couple of decades, but the growth in its citizens' waist sizes and overall weight has been the most troubling issues. For a large part of the twentieth century, weights have been below the levels recommended for maximum longevity (Fogel 372). Now, most citizens of the United States are well over what has been set as the "safe" standard for weight. The even bigger problem is that weights and waist sizes are steadily increasing. The United States isn't the only country that has trouble controlling its appetites, but we are the only one that has grown to be heavy as we are now.

Are there any real explanations for this enormous growth in obesity? Why is the United States the only country that seems to have an out of control problem with obesity? Evidence has shown that the calories that we expend in our daily lives have not changed drastically since the 1980's, but the number of calories taken in has gone up considerably. This evidence brings about the next question: why such a large increase in the number of calories the average American consumes?

There have been a number of theories that could be used to give explanation for the increase in the calories consumed by the average American. The changes in the amount of money that is made and needed to survive and strive could be one of those reasons. The wealthier people become, the more they will want, whether it be a bigger boat or house, or larger amounts of food. The changes in the amount of earnings a person has don't seem to be enough to explain this oversize epidemic. The drop in the prices of foods could also coincide with income levels to produce a larger nation, but a lack of real evidence to support this idea leaves us looking for another answer. Another answer could deal with the fact that families with moms that stay at home and don't have a job have declined. Therefore, the increase in eating more fast foods than usual would be because there is no adult at home to cook dinner, leaving the families and children with no other option. The more times people eat out in a week due to few home cooked meals could be a reason, but no studies have shown that eating out absolutely increases the amount of calories a person consumes. A new theory proposed by experts links the rise in obesity with the reductions in the cost, and time it takes to prepare even more varieties of food. The reductions in the time and cost of food preparation has caused the amount of food intake to sky rocket, in turn making waist sizes grow larger. The answer lies in food preparation. In earlier decades, most of the food preparation was done by the families that were going to consume the food. At the present time, food preparation has been taken over by a massive manufacturing industry. The change in who was making the majority amount of food for people to eat was able to happen all because of new inventions in technology. Preservatives, deep freezing, artificial flavoring, and vacuum sealing are just some of the technological innovations that have helped in this area. If it weren't for...
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