Plague of the 21st Century
Obesity is a disease that affects one in three members of the American population. Obesity is when excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems. People are considered obese when their body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of the person's height in meters exceeds 30 kg/m2. Obesity increases the likelihood of several diseases particularly heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancers, and osteoarthritis. Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive food energy, intake, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility although few cases are caused primarily by genes, endocrine disorders, medications or psychiatric illness. Evidence to support the view that some obese people eat little yet gain weight due to a slow metabolism is limited; on average obese people have a greater energy expenditure than their thin counterparts due to the energy required to maintain an increased body mass. The trend of obese Americans has continually increased since 1960, and is not showing signs of slowing down. More than half of the adults in America are considered overweight or obese, and about thirty-four percent of the total population in the U.S is either overweight or obese. One is considered “overweight” if the body mass index, or BMI, is twenty-five to twenty-nine kilograms. “Obese” is any number thirty or greater (Hateweight.com). Obesity is the cause of at least 300,000 deaths in the U.S every year, second only to smoking (American Obesity Association). There are many causes of obesity; some of which are environmentally related and others are genetically related. Genetics from an obese relative can be passed from generation to another; this form of obesity is hard to control without proper treatment (Hateweight.com). The American culture has been the biggest cause of obesity. All of our surroundings and social environments have greatly influenced obesity. Most social events revolve around food or drinks, which are usually unhealthy for the body. Food itself has become a reward; young children are often rewarded for good behavior with a “treat” (American Obesity Association). This treat is often a child’s favorite candy or sweet. Adults also use food as a reward. Successful business transactions between companies are often celebrated with food and drinks. Employees often stop after work to have drinks and possibly dinner to celebrate. Alcoholic drinks are very high in fat and have no nutritional value. Also, most restaurant food is high in fat and calories. Another factor that is the cause of this disease is lifestyle. People are no as physically active as they should be. They have become more dependent on someone else to do their work for them. After a long day of work or school, we have the choice to prepare ourselves a healthy meal or to get something quick and easy from the drive-through or a quick microwaveable dinner. Many of us do not have the time, or just simply choose not prepare healthy meals or exercise and it shows in our waistline. From the abundance of fast food chains on every corner to television and video games it is no wonder why we are putting on extra pounds. Obesity is caused by an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle, but others are opposed to this view, claiming that obesity is a disease caused by genetics and other factors. Before we can further examine this argument, we need to have a clear definition of obesity, which is “a condition that is characterized by excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body”(Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary online). Also, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC), “for adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the "body mass index" (BMI). BMI is used because, for most people, it correlates with their amount of body fat. An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese”(CDC). Because the BMI calculation only uses weight and height, many people who don’t look excessively overweight may still be considered obese due to muscle weight, but regardless whether one is on the borderline of being obese or if one’s BMI surpasses 40, he or she has a disease according to some views. One may argue that obesity is a disease because, like any other disease, it can interfere with the body not functioning properly. An excess amount of fat tissues will cause the overproduction of bodily molecules and mediators, which contribute to abnormal regulation of food consumption and energy levels (American Medical Association). As being a problem with genetics, Albert J. Stunkard, MD states that studies have proven that inheriting obesity is in fact true.