The Correlation Between Obesity, Depression, and Physical Activity

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Obesity is becoming an impending epidemic in our society (Hill, Wyatt, Reed, & Peters, 2003; Kottke, Wu, & Hoffman, 2003). Prevalence of obesity is on the rise and deaths attributable to it are higher than ever. It is estimated by the NIDDK (2003) that 30.5% of adults in the United States are obese and if the rate of increase remains constant, 39% of adults will be obese by the year 2008 (Hill, et al. 2003). In a study conducted by Thorpe, et al. (2004) out of 2681 New York elementary school students 24% were obese, so there is a high prevalence in children as well. Flegal, Williamson, Pamuk, and Rosenberg (2004) discovered that the obese population contributes ten times more deaths per year, about 300,000, than the portion of the country within normal weight categories. The cost of lives is not the only payment for obesity, the nation suffers economically as well by paying more for health care (Kottke, et al. 2003). Obese medical patients have many more risks associated with medical care (NIDDK, 2003; Neville, Brown, Weng, Demetriades, & Velmahos, 2004). A higher rate of multiple organ failure is prevalent in the obese which often leads to death (Neville, et al. 2004). This means that obese patients need to be monitored more closely, which effectively costs more (Neville, et al. 2004). There are also indirect costs of obesity due to lost jobs by individuals who are disabled by their condition (Kottke, et al. 2003). Overall, the yearly cost due to obesity is estimated to be 117 billion dollars (NIDDK, 2003).

The words obesity and overweight can have a broad meaning. Scientists and physicians, however, have designated a small number of accepted systems associated with body mass index, or BMI. BMI is a measurement of height versus weight, and appears in the units kg/m^2 (Ariza, Greenberg, & Unger, 2004; NIDDK, 2003). Most research is done with the guidelines being a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI greater than 30 is considered obese. There are even higher categories where a BMI greater than 40 is considered severely obese.

The reason obesity is so awful is because there are serious health risks associated with this problem (Grundy, et al. 1999; NIDDK, 2003; Veronelli, et al. 2004). Some of the major comorbities of obesity include coronary artery disease, diabetes, hypertension, and osteoarthritis (Grundy, et al. 1999; NIDDK, 2003; Veronelli, et al. 2004).

Television, videogames, the internet, high fat low-cost food, low physical activity level, and a low level of education puts society at risk for obesity because all of these factors combine to make a inactive lifestyle. According to Cottam (2004) this utilitarian lifestyle, the pleasure first attitude predisposes people to becoming obese. Lack of education is a large determinant in having a predisposition to obesity as well. Although many people are predisposed to being obese society has the ability to take back the control and adopt a healthier lifestyle. This control would effectively be regained by targeting the population of children (Fowler-Brown & Kahwati, 2004). Childhood is the most critical time to prevent a person from becoming obese, because between the ages of four and six children go through adiposity rebound (AR) (Ariza, et al. 2004). AR is where the adiposity in a child significantly increases (Ariza, et al. 2004). The adipose tissue developed during this time period will have to be fed for a lifetime (Ariza, et al. 2004). And according to Ariza, et al. (2004) the heavier a child is at adiposity rebound, the more likely they will grow up to be an obese adult. The initiative taken to prevent the childhood population from becoming obese rests squarely on the shoulders of physicians and parents (Fowler-Brown & Kahwati, 2004; Gill, MacDougall, & Taylor, 2004). It is the physician's role to educate the parents about how to prevent obesity in their child (Kottke, et al. 2003). Education of the parent is important, because if the...
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