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Causes of Obesity

By ChickenFeed Jan 20, 2005 1327 Words
Americans' obesity has rapidly increased because of advanced technology and Americans' lack of self control. Obesity has been designated as a global epidemic by the World Health Organization since 1998 and is one of the most common chronic illnesses for both adults and children (WHO). The American Obesity Association states that currently 64.5% of adult Americans and 45.6% of American children are categorized as overweight or obese, which means they have too much body fat (AOA). What causes this increasingly detrimental problem?

First of all, the workplace has become increasingly automated. Back in the olden times, people had to do manual labor and actually exercise most of the day. Today, machines do the hard work so one does not have to do manual labor. Labor saving technology like washing machines which save one from the pain of scrubbing clothes against a washboard and computers which can send emails instantly to another person on the other side of the country have caused people to stop exercising and participate in leisure activities much more often. However, the biggest cause of labor saving technology in the workplace is computers (North Carolina A&T State University). Computers run machines which make cars, cook food, cut wood, and thousands of other tasks that used to require vigorous exercise. So without the computers, the machines could not run or perform any tasks effectively. Nearly all businesses rely on computers, and without their precious computers, their businesses would deteriorate in no time. Although obesity has grown because of the increasingly automated workplace, it is not the only cause.

A second cause of Americans' obesity comes from the home. Household chores are also assisted by labor-saving machinery. For example, before gas fireplaces were invented, a person had to chop down a tree by hand and chop that tree into smaller pieces. This process was very long and strenuous, exercising the legs, chest, and arms. Today, however, all you have to do to make a fire is light a match or turn a knob that lights the gas in the fireplace. Or if a person is too lazy to get up to turn the knob on the fireplace, all they have to do is press a button on a remote control to light the fire. Another chore that is much easier because of technology is preparing food. Obtaining food is simple, cheap, and easy to come by. Working on the farm used to be the only way a family could get food. It required extensive labor and patience to raise a good crop and effectively raise cattle. One could not just take a vacation when they got tired because the crops would die ("Hard Work"). Nowadays, all a person has to do is pop a meal into the microwave or drive to a fast food restaurant. This method is less healthy than raising crops and livestock because it requires no exercise at all. To make matters worse, the food obtained from the fridge or from a fast food restaurant is often loaded with fat, sugar, and calories. Plus, fattening foods are often less expensive to buy than nutritious, quality foods. Many companies will opt to use ingredients that are less expensive, such as lower quality palm oils and fatty cuts of meats or meat byproducts rather than lean and more nutritious ingredients (Sych). It is cheaper to make a sugar laden fruit beverage than to make a juice from real fruit. Instead of vitamins, we consume large amounts of sugar that within our bodies easily converts into fat. Still, these factors are not the only ones that contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle which causes obesity.

A third factor which causes obesity is the lack of exercise in transportation. Walking or bicycling has been replaced by automobile travel. Back a long time ago, children had to walk to school and adults had to walk to work. Today, children can ride the bus to school or their parents can drive them to school on their way to work. Sitting down in an automobile cannot be considered a healthy habit. Also, joyriding has replaced much healthier hobbies. Instead of participating in activities that require exercise, some people just drive around town for fun. Although this is a cause of obesity, is most certainly is not the most contributing factor.

Heredity and hormones play a large role in determining how susceptible people are to obesity. In a presentation before the students at Vanderbilt, Dr. Rudolph Leibel said, "Leptin may the key to understanding why most diets fail" (The Reporter). Leptin is a hormone released by fat tissue that helps the brain regulate appetite and body weight. Among other things, it is designed to ensure reproductive fitness and survival in often-hostile environments by preserving an adequate amount of body fat, said Dr. Rudolph Leibel, who co-discovered the hormone nearly a decade ago at Rockefeller University in New York. Fat cells shrink during dieting and so does the amount of leptin they secrete into the blood. "When leptin falls below a genetically and developmentally determined threshold, the hypothalamus in the brain is triggered to release other hormonal and neurological signals that increase food intake and reduce energy expenditure" (The Reporter). More study is needed to understand leptin's relationship to obesity; however, it is important to remember that a genetic disposition toward obesity does not mean one is destined to be overweight. It only means that you may have to work harder to avoid gaining weight. Another hormone that can be linked to obesity is dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical produced in the body that causes people to feel pleasure. "Dopamine deficiency has been linked to addictive behaviors, and some researchers speculate that it could be linked to addictive-type eating disorders. However, less than two percent of all cases of obesity are related to hormonal or metabolic disorders" (USA Today). For some lucky people, hormones and genetics perform in the opposite manner. For some, they cause high metabolism, which in turn causes a person to have an incredibly hard time becoming overweight. And so, the bottom line is that your lifestyle determines weight and health.

A person's lifestyle is the most important factor in causing obesity and lies mainly with his character. Some people may just not have enough self-discipline to stop themselves from overeating or not exercising enough even though they know what they are doing is wrong. Families today constantly seem to feel time-pressured and therefore look to fast food and eating out to deal with this pressure. When someone walks into a grocery store, there is the option to choose between carrots or a candy bar. People just lack self control and decide to buy the junk food because it tastes good. The do not think twice about what the effects of eating junk are. Plus, many adults do not have time or the discipline to go to a gym or use home exercise equipment on an ongoing basis. Children look up to their parents as role models, so if one or both parents are overweight because of their personal lifestyle choices, the child's likelihood of developing obesity later in life is increased. Children often choose to watch television or play computer and video games over physical activities. Inactivity among adults and children combined with constant snacking and consuming foods that are high in sugar, carbohydrates, and fat has caused North American's obesity epidemic. And so, the main cause of obesity lies within a person's character and how good he is at controlling himself.

Obesity is a major problem in American and continues to get worse and worse as time goes on. Because America is a free nation, its people have the opportunity to invent and come up with great technologies that make life easier. This technology, along with people's genetics and lack of self control, causes the obesity problem to increase each and every year. It is imperative that people realize these problems and their causes so they can more effectively fight the battle against obesity.

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