Obesity in America
There is no wonder that we have an obesity epidemic in America. Food is everywhere we turn. Whether it’s sitting along the roadside, calling at you in bright colors from grocery store shelves, glowing in vending machines or even in the elaborate television commercials we watch. There is no way to escape from the never ending advertisements. This is where the epidemic of obesity begins. We as Americans consume more food portions than our body can handle and not enough physical activity, causing higher medical costs and a lower quality of life.
Americans are also overweight due to the lack of exercise. We would rather spend more time on the couch watching television or playing video games then we would in the gym. Some people could say many communities are built in ways that make it difficult or unsafe to be physically active. They may not have safe routes for walking or biking to school, work or play might not exist. Just an hour a day, 3 times a week could better our health.
Obesity ranks as the second-leading cause of preventable deaths in America. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity in adults has increased by 50% within the past several decades and in children it has tripled. More than 72 million people and 17% of children are obese. Obesity is a contributing cause of many other health problems such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some types of cancer, sleep apnea, breathing problems and make activity more difficult. America is home to the most obese people in the world and even though we are one of the most industrialized nations with great economic power and amazing technology, we are also living in a country with the smallest nutritional knowledge.
It’s no wonder that obesity is on the rise. With today’s economy and parents having to work 2 or more jobs to keep things a float, it is often easier and cheaper to get less healthy foods and beverages. Also some Americans have less access to stores and markets that provide healthy, affordable food such as fruits and vegetables, especially in rural, minority and low-income neighborhoods. So the idea of fast food restaurants or even pre-made meals that can be put into the microwave, makes it more appealing to people.
In 2004 a documentary filmed directed and starred by Morgan Spurlock called “Supersize Me” follows him in a 28 day period which he eats only McDonald’s food at every meal. The film documents his lifestyle’s drastic effects physical and psychological well being, and explores the fast food industry’s cooperate influences, including how it encourages poor nutrition and for its own profit. Spurlock dined at McDonald’s restaurants three times per day, eating every item on the menu. Spurlock consumed an average of 5,000 calories per day during his experiment. As a result he gained 24 ½ pounds, gained 13% body mass, a cholesterol level of 230, and experienced mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and fat accumulation to his liver. It took Spurlock 14 months to lose the weight gained from his experiment.
The reason for Spurlock’s investigation was the increasing spread of obesity throughout U.S. society and corresponding lawsuit brought against McDonald’s on behalf of two overweight girls who became obese as a result of eating McDonald’s food. [Pelman v. McDonald’s Corp., 237F. Supp. 2d512]. Spurlock points out that even though the lawsuit against McDonald’s failed much the same criticism leveled against the tobacco companies applies to fast food franchise whose product is both physiologically addictive and physically harmful.
Obesity is a complex problem that requires a strong call for action, at many levels, for both adults as well as children. We as Americans need to promote change. Making it easier and cheaper for families to get the healthy foods they need to stop this epidemic of obesity. We need to start setting limits and health plans early in our life to overcome this threat. We need to provide supermarkets and farmer’s markets with incentives to establish their businesses in low-income areas and offer healthy foods and expand programs that bring local fruits and vegetables to school, businesses, and communities. We also need to create and maintain safe neighborhoods for physical activity and improve access to parks and playgrounds. For ourselves we need to eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer foods with high fats and sugars. Drink more water instead of sugary drinks. Limit tv watching in kids to less than 2 hours a day. We also can promote policies and programs at school, at work, and in the community that makes healthy choice the easy choice.