Health care organizations in partnership with government agencies admit that the obesity epidemic in America is out of control and requires intervention to address causes for obesity, and solutions to correct this problem. The obesity epidemic in America raises health concerns for citizens suffering from obesity because unhealthy body weight causes other health problems. Health care providers believe that community and environmental factors causes people to eat unhealthy foods, which place those individuals at risk for chronic health conditions. Many people believe that “Obesity is almost always due to a combination of genetic predisposition, lifestyle, and environment” (Arial, Newell, Silvey, & Zlot, 2007, p. 1). Health problems associated with obesity include high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, depression, asthma, and high cholesterol. The consequences of obesity lead to chronic health conditions, and premature death, which reduces the quality of life for some obese people. The media, health care providers, and the government awareness actions raise attention to the epidemic by informing the public of obesity problems via television, e-mail, and billboard advertisements. Health care providers offer health/wellness programs to encourage parents to join the battle against childhood obesity, adult obesity. The design of intervention exists to eliminate and resolve problems, however; “The intensity of interventions required to treat obesity is likely to vary among individuals” (Arial, Newell, Silvey, & Zlot, 2007, p. 1).
Obesity, defined as overweight refers to an individual’s body weight and body fat composition. Ideal weight standards define a target weight for men, women, and children in accordance with mandates set to regulate body mass index according to height, weight, and age. Therefore, obesity occurs when an individual exceeds his or her target bodyweight/height proportion, and visible fat surrounds the legs, arms, abdominal region, or obstructs facial features. Hospitals, medical providers, and public health care agencies measure body mass index with machinery, which reveals an individual’s total body mass index in percentages of body weight such as a (BMI) of 30%, indicating obesity.
Research indicates that an individual encounters obesity based on his or her sedentary lifestyle surroundings (Arial, Newell, Silvey, & Zlot, 2007, p. 1). Overweight and obese people face increased risk factors for health disease, diabetes, stroke, and other health problems than smaller individuals encounter. Obesity classifications determine by race, sex, genetic characteristics, age, and socioeconomic conditions. Public awareness foster lifestyle changes because “Growing awareness of the childhood obesity epidemic, health policies that address obesogenic environments by encouraging health eating and increased physical activity are gaining more attention” (Boehmer, Brownson, Dreisinger, & Joshu, 2007, p. 1). Healthy lifestyle changes reduce the obesity epidemic for some individuals, however; “In the United States, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has been on a steady rise in all sex, age, race, and education subgroups for the past several decades” (Boehmer, Brownson, Dreisinger, & Joshu, 2007, p. 1). In the United States approximately 50% or more Americans are overweight or obese. African American, non-Hispanic, and low-income women pose higher obesity risks than other nationalities (Nutrition and Weight Status, 2012).
Lower economic groups of people often cannot afford to purchase health foods of high quality, lack physical exercise capabilities, and experience medical care access problems that help contribute to the obesity epidemic. Therefore, individuals of low poverty areas predominantly eat processed foods high in sugar/fat, consume low quality meats, and high calorie soft drinks. However, other factors excluding food affect people of low income levels, including limited access to health clubs, personal trainers, fitness equipment, and nutritionist services. The combination of high calorie/fat foods, inability to afford support services, and the lack of health care resources contributes to revolving cycle of obesity. Many low-income citizens receive Medicaid, however; many health care providers reluctant to accept patients receiving Medicaid makes receiving treatment, preventative education virtually impossible for people plagued with the obesity epidemic.
Federal Agencies, including The Department of Health and Human Services throughout the country recognize the need to address the obesity epidemic in America. Topics for addressing the obesity epidemic, according to Healthy People 2020 include “Supporting the health benefits of eating a healthy diet and maintaining healthy body weight” (Nutrition and Weight Status, 2012, p. 1). The goal of Healthy people consists of providing nutrition education, dietary change, and behavioral changes “In settings such as schools, worksites, health care organizations, and communities” (Nutrition and Weight Status, 2012, p. 1). Therefore, the Health People project expects to improve health priorities on a nationwide basis that include offering resources on nutrient rich foods, whole grains, nuts, fruits, protein, and vegetables sources to promote healthy eating.
The Trust for America’s Health states that “Nearly 119 million American adults, 65 percent of the population, are currently overweight or obese” (F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2007, p. 1). Costs associated with treating obese patient in America “Are more than $117 billion per year…Americas’ growing waistlines are leading to escalating disease rates and costs” (F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2007, p. 1). Intervention programs designed by the National Advertisers Review Council (NARC), the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), monitors the obesity epidemic changes. The Joint FTC and Department of Health and Human Service Worshops (HHS), the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and other agencies promote “Self-regulatory responses to new marketing practices aimed at children” and adults (Fletcher, 2005, p. 1).
The CDC monitors calorie reduction, the USDA offer nutritional school lunch programs for children, including fresh fruit/health dairy products, the government enacted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP), and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) monitors the safety of foods consumed in America. Therefore, these organizations work to promote healthy eating, education, and oversee obesity control tactics to reduce/eliminate this epidemic.
State regulation agencies enforce obesity regulation throughout the United States. Many laws under consideration “Would restrict the sale of soda and candy in public schools, require fast-food chains to post fat and sugar content directly on all menu boards, and even attempt to tax the fat away” (Longley, 2012, p. 1). States interact with nonprofit/private organizations to help individuals find resources aimed at battling obesity. Some organizations include YMCA, Action for Kids, Healthy Kids, Health Communities, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the New Jersey Partnership, Information for Action, and many other resources aimed at increasing education and preventing obesity (National Programs, 2012). State health departments have programs designed to address the long term implications of obesity in the hope of reducing/eliminating the causes and contributing factors of this epidemic. However, “Taming the obesity epidemic in this country needs an all-hands-on-deck strategy so that…communities build recreational spaces that encourage physical activity” (Hellmich, 2012, p. 1).
Extra weight increases the risk of disease, including diabetes, cancer, stroke, and many other ailments costing billions in extra medical expenses. The Institute of Medicine committee reviewed “More than 800 obesity prevention recommendation to pinpoint the most effective ones” (Hellmich, 2012, p. 1). However, Dan Glickman, chairperson of the institute committee stated “There are no magic bullets in here, but the report pulls it all together” (Hellmich, 2012, p. 1). Therefore, every state must join the battle to combat obesity through various methods because no one method is a cure all for this epidemic.
Obesity System Monitoring
The Department of Health gathers overweight/obesity data to help identify problem communities and populations suffering from this epidemic. The agency conducts surveys, perform assessments, and use various systems to collect data for statistical purposes. Vital statistic reveal health improvement strategies to physicians designed to improve a patient’s overall health. Reports indicate that obesity differences occur based on ethnicity, race, age, and se. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention segregates data by state, the CDC indicates reports obesity percentages for men and women from 1999-2000 throughout 2010 (Ogden, Carroll, McDowell, & Flegal, 2004). Body Mass Index tools tracks trends in body fat percentages of populations, the CDC stores this statistical data shared with the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute for health care provider insight. Health care organizations access information posted on the disease registry because information provided by the registry may improve clinical outcomes/processes for obese patients. Health care organizations use disease registry data to implement new programs and improve the quality of service provided.
Multiple factors affect obesity in patients, which ultimately diminishes the quality of life for many citizens. Therefore, discoveries pinpoint dietary habits and patterns necessary to design healing solutions. Dataset surveillance research occurs through the USDA, Rural Atlas of Small Town America, The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research, and Policy Research Partnership for Healthier Youth Behavior. The Atlas reports agricultural, demographical, and economic data on small towns, including rural areas (Robert Johnson Foundation, 2010). Some web tools include The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research, local, state, and national systems designed to provide data necessary for obesity control (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Another prominent tool is a policy Research Partnership for Healthier Youth Behavior because this organization monitors youth obesity through database surveillance designed to help researchers target problem areas.
The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance, Youth Risk Behaviors Surveillance System, the Pediatric and Pregnancy Nutrition, the National Health, the Nutrition Examination Survey, and the National Health Interview System monitor the obesity statistics/epidemics (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance organization reports annual data to states compiled by self-reporting methods. The reporting system monitors height/weight proportion rations of individuals tested. The NHANES survey combines physical examinations, and interviews that assess the health and nutritional stat of obese patients (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). The YRBSS monitors risks associated with obesity, the NHIS monitors the health of citizens throughout the country since 1957, and the Pediatric and Pregnancy Nutrition System monitors nutritional data of low income women, children, and infants participating in federal health care programs (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012).
Obesity in America causes concern for federal, state, local, and individual intervention to combat this costly epidemic. Obesity affects the health of many American citizens. Therefore; each agency initiatives differ in implementing solutions to prevent obesity by population because of financial resource limitations, including access to medical services, physical activities, and health food alternatives. The agencies involved in the monitoring, education, and prevention services struggle to manage this health issue because no one solution is the answer to solving the obesity epidemic for every population. These agencies must address and monitor health issues by understanding the underlying causes of the plague and implement monitoring, dataset, and surveillance to control obesity. State, and Federal monitoring helps to address the obesity problem by conducting surveys, implementing action plans, designing exercise plans, and by providing healthy food choices. Tighter food regulation, the elimination of high-fat fast food restaurants, and access to healthier food at an affordable cost presents possible solutions to reduce the obesity epidemic. Research indicates “The potential of price changes to improve food choices is evident from growing research on how relative food prices affect dietary quality and obesity” (Andreyeva, Brownell, & Long, 2012, p. 1). Monitoring the food supply process, including preservatives, fat contents, sugar consumption, and other obesity causing factors improves the health of citizens throughout the United States.
Although some people believe genes, and other environmental factors contribute to obesity Charles believes the predominant enemy remains processed foods, high fat foods, and low quality foods available to people who lack resources to purchase higher priced organic, preservative free selections.
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