7 August 2012
Obesity in America
In the United States today, obesity has become an enormous problem. In the last three decades, the number of people overweight has increased dramatically. A study done by the Centers of Disease Control showed that since 1980, one third of the adult population has become overweight. America is the richest but also the fattest nation in the world and our obese backsides are the butt of jokes in every other country (Klein 28). The 1980s were a time when Americans suddenly started going crazy over dieting, jumping onto treadmills, and buying prepackaged non-fat foods. However, while all of that was going on, the number of obese Americans began to increase. According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 58 million people in our country weigh over 20 percent of their body’s ideal weight. The article “Fat Times” states, “If this were about tuberculosis, it would be called an epidemic” (Elmer-Dewit 58). The eating habits of society have steadily become more harmful and have started to produce gluttonous children, over-indulgent adults, and a food industry set too much on satisfying our appetites. Obesity can begin at a very young age. Many children in our society are overweight, setting themselves up for serious health problems later in life. Type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart problems are just some of the risks. They get teased, criticized, and judged. In many cases, the problem is not the child’s fault. Being overweight may run in that child’s family, or their parents do not encourage them to be active and get enough exercise. Many children spend too much time indoors wasting away in front of the TV, playing video games, or spending time on the computer, and consuming high fat snacks, soft drinks and candy at the same time. The CDC performed a study in 1994 that was described in the book Fat Land; it showed that children who watched over four hours of television a day had higher body mass index numbers than those who watched less than one hour a day. In 1994, The Centers for Disease Control studied the TV viewing time, exercise patterns, and weight gain of 4,063 children aged eight to fifteen. The results found that the less a child exercised and the more they watched TV, the more likely they were to be obese or overweight. When they surveyed the parents, they discovered that the concern about crime was a reason that the parents didn’t want their children outside being active. That is why they were not concerned about the harmful effect of sitting in front of the TV all day; they were just glad that their children were safe. Surveys, studies, and reports that came out in the 1990s began to show shocking results of how “socially disfranchised” children were becoming from being obese (Critser 73-74). A Harvard Health Report, “Weight Less, Live Longer,” discusses how many people do not realize that their appetite and diet can be closely related to many psychological factors. Any person who has ever binged on chips or cookies when they feel upset can understand this. Several studies have shown that people tend to eat more when they feel anxious, depressed, or have symptoms of other emotional disorders. Certain foods have been known to have a calming effect, although unfortunately it is usually the fattening foods that do. When a depressed person eats to feel better, they gain weight, and being overweight can in turn cause depression and the emotional problems that signal overeating. A vicious cycle begins. Being overweight can cause more emotional problems than just overeating, however. Sadly, obese people are very often socially shunned, judged, criticized, and made fun of. They have more trouble finding jobs, friends, and mates. Being discriminated against just adds to the emotional strain that overweight people have to deal with. Their depression from being obese can cause feelings of hopelessness, making it seem...
Cited: Brownell, Kelly D. and Christopher G. Fairburn, ed. Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Comprehensive Handbook. New York: Guilford Press, 1995.
Critser, Greg. Fat Land: How Americans Became The Fattest People in the World. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.
Elmer-Dewit, Philip. “Fat times” Time. Jan 16, 1995 v145 n2 p.58 (8). Health and Wellness Resource Center. William J. Squires Library, 2 February 2006.
Sept 19, 1994 v211 n12-13 p.28 (5).
Poston, Walker and Keith Haddock, ed
Jacqueline L. Longe, Editor. 5 vols. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2001.
“Weight Management for Children”
"Why People Become Overweight." Weigh Less, Live Longer (Harvard Special Health Reports). In consultation with Lee M. Kaplan, M.D., Ph.D. Stanford, CT: Harvard Health Publications, 2001.
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