Obesity in American Samoa
While researching this project I discovered an amazing family centered culture in which I would be proud to belong. I discovered the beauties of a unique and unfamiliar group of islands, a faraway place with no apparent connection to the U.S. mainland. I found American Samoa. I also discovered a very distinct problem, a disease if you will. Obesity the disease is the cause of multiple health issues. So many that trying to count would be consuming. Obesity, as defined by the World Health Organization is having a (BMI) Body mass index, defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the height in meters squared (kg/m2), of or above 30. According to the (WHO) 2008 study on world Obesity, 300 million men and another 200 million women are Obese worldwide. In American Samoa hypertension and obesity are significant health problems in the population. Leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular disease. A recent comparison by the C.I.A. World fact book suggests that 74.6 % of All Samoans over the age of 18 are Obese. That is more than double that of the United States whose obesity rate is 33.9%. And we in the U.S. are a fat nation! That statistic alone is very alarming. Why out of everywhere on the planet is Obesity most prevalent in American Samoa? Let’s find out. There are several factors of influence on Obesity that this project is analyzing then addressing. Social, cultural, epidemiological and environmental factors weigh extremely heavy in this analysis and will be explored. Social factors that might have led to this disease’s prevalence include physical attributes, family habits, education level, and economic status. The physical attributes include large statue or as we call it, “big bones.” This would increase the (BMI) of Samoans alone by as much as 15% according to the Central Intelligence Agency. Family habits regarding types of foods eaten and sedentary lifestyles incorporated by children through other family members are indicated. Low education levels resulting in low paying jobs makes unhealthy foods more affordable and thus consumed more than more expensive healthier choices. Foods that contribute to obesity are high in sugar, salt and fat. Also education levels in American Samoa regarding nutrition need to be raised so that an awareness of proper dietary guidelines can be achieved. It seems worldwide that economic status and education go hand in hand. This will be discussed in depth in the recommendation phase. Cultural factors that could have led to Obesity are easily noticed and admired. The American Samoan culture is a family centered celebration of life. But while these joyous gatherings are full of love and festive times, they are also enjoyed with practicing traditions of eating foods packed with fat, salt and sugar. Foods served on ceremonial occasions include daily fare plus whole pigs, potato salad, chop suey, puddings, cakes, and ice cream. A great quantity of food is served at special events, with guests being expected to eat a portion and take the rest home to share with their households. This creates a problem with regard to portion control and the failure to follow nutritional guidelines as tool for achieving optimal health. Epidemiological features of obesity include higher than average global prevalence, secular trends, risk factors, and burden of illness related to obesity. The risk factors associated with Obesity include but are not limited to Genetics, family habits, Unhealthy diet and eating habits, Social and economic issues, and Inactivity. Heart disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular disease once again as well as hypertension and diabetes mellitus are results of Obesity. Born slightly heavy on average, a sample of hundreds of infants in American Samoa continued to gain weight quickly after birth, achieving high rates of obesity within 15 months. This shows that Obesity in American...
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