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The American Obesity Epidemic

By everettsj Dec 07, 2013 2237 Words
The American Obesity Epidemic
Obesity in America is on the rise now, with 72-million people contributing to this new “epidemic.” People need to start taking care of their bodies or they could possibly lose their lives to the leading cause of death in America—heart disease. Believe it or not, this epidemic isn’t just effecting the human population. Twenty-five percent of cats and dogs are now heavier than they should be. With excess weight usually comes many kinds of physiological, behavioral, social, environmental and economic problems. Childhood obesity rates have nearly tripled since the 1980’s, and current research shows that almost one-third of children over two years of age are already overweight or obese ("Obesity In America: What's Driving The Epidemic."). To put a stop to this epidemic, we need a solution that goes far beyond simply eating less. This obesity epidemic is responsible for more than one hundred sixty-thousand additional deaths each year in America now. Currently, 72% of men and 63% of women are overweight (White). So why is it that the U.S. has become so big in the last twenty years? The obvious, almost trivial answer is that we eat too many high-calorie foods and don't burn them off through exercise ("Adult Obesity Facts."). If only we could change those habits, then this big problem might fade. Clearly, changing these habits isn't simple. Americans have been eating ‘more often,’ more and more over the years, and its effects are unfortunately catching up to us. Over the last 30 years, the average number of meals has risen from 3.8 to 4.9 per day ("Obesity in America: What's Driving The Epidemic."). The disproportionate amount of meals that everyone eats has played a huge factor in our nation’s obesity rise ("Obesity In America: What's Driving The Epidemic." 6). Who’s to blame? Is there someone to blame? It’s natural for us to try and find someone to blame for this epidemic; or is there some thing to blame. A lawsuit was recently filed against McDonalds by two teenagers claiming that the food was threatening their health. The case was dropped due to lack of evidence from the plaintiffs. Maybe fast food restaurants, food manufacturers, or even our nation just doesn’t have enough self-discipline to control ourselves in general, causing us to take our problems out on others just as the obese teenagers in the lawsuit. In 2020, 83% of men and 72% of women will be overweight or obese (White). Many people might not realize the many health risks or “consequences” that are associated with obesity: Diseases and death are among the many. These illnesses include many cancers, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even heart disease (White). All of these dreadful consequences can be results of people’s actions such as compulsive eating and sedentary lifestyles. In an interview with Jennifer Rice, our Lebanon Food Service Director, she spoke to me about her thoughts on the issue; she believes that the home life of children and their parents contribute to their lack of weight control. She thinks that the children eat what is at home, and for some homes, there may never be fruit or vegetables in the kitchen. Americans know how to make healthy choices, but still don’t choose to make them (Brown). People have become extremely lazy. Everyone must begin making healthier choices today so that we can prevent the chronic heart conditions that will affect our tomorrows (Brown). Exercising and eating healthy is not a job, it’s a choice, or better yet a lifestyle. Healthy choices are available for everyone. Some people say, “I don’t have time to exercise!” Well, those people should substitute an hour of physical activity for those two or three hours they normally spend on the computer or the couch each day. Some people say, “There are more important problems to worry about than obesity!” Those people need to be informed of this epidemic and how dangerous obesity can get (Brown). If they don’t see obesity as something dangerous, then they need to see it in that way. Others might say, “Why should I care? I’m not even fat.” Well, maybe those people that are more slender don’t need to worry about obesity, but they could have friends and family that they should worry about. One of the ultimate causes of obesity is rooted deep within our genes. Genetics play a sizeable role on our body images. Who you are and how you act are commonly identical to the ways of your biological parents. How your body grows, develops, and handles weight is very dependent upon genetics. Scientific evidence of a genetic basis for obesity has been stated through a variety of recent studies. Most of this evidence includes studies of resemblances and differences among family members, twins, and adoptees. Investigations suggest that a sizable significant portion of excess weight in adults is due to genetic factors. However, identifying these factors has always been difficult. Obesity is also dependent upon the many environments that surround us. Our ancestors lived in an environment where food wasn’t found on every street corner. We don’t have that challenge of finding food in today’s society as people might have had a long time ago. With convenience food or “fast” food at its finest today, we can have literally any type of food, at any time of day, and we can get it from almost any place we want. Just how common is fast food? There are close to fifty thousand fast food chains across the United States, with McDonalds being the largest restaurant chain. In the world, there are more than five hundred thousand fast food places. Ninety-six percent of kids in school can recognize an image of Ronald McDonald, the “face” of McDonalds ("Overweight and Obesity Statistics”). Surprisingly, Santa Clause was the only children’s figure to rank higher. Fast food does not have to be unhealthy, but most of the time it is. Americans often order foods that are high in fat, calories, sugar, and sodium; usually more than our bodies can handle at one time (Marten). All this food has less nutrition and vitamins which in the long-run causes a build-up of fat in the body. The most common solution to losing weight is to simply exercise more, eat less fast food, eat healthier foods, and drink more water. Despite the achievable solutions out there, Americans, as a whole, spend millions upon millions of dollars each year on weight loss products, health-club memberships, liposuctions, and gastric bypass operations. If everyone were to practice a healthy lifestyle then maybe the United States wouldn’t be the most obese nation in the world. For a majority of Americans, all you have to do to get in your daily exercise can be as simple as walking for 30 minutes each day ("Obesity In America: What's Driving The Epidemic." 6). The quickest and by far the simplest solution to obesity is gastric bypass surgery. A gastric bypass operation includes the insertion of a ring around the stomach entryway to make your bodily food-intake smaller. With no cutting, stapling, or stomach re-routing, a gastric bypass operation is considered the least traumatic of all weight loss surgeries. The procedures also reduce pain, shorten your hospital stay, and offer quicker recoveries. Another “easy” solution would be a liposuction procedure. Liposuction is literally the suction of fat from the body tissue. This operation is known to be a “quick and easy fix.” However, there's always the possibility that an organ could be penetrated in the process of sucking out the fat. There’s also the rare occasion of a blood clot or even nerve damage. The more fat that is removed, the greater risks there are for complications. All surgery involves risks. However, if it is performed by a specially trained, board-certified plastic surgeon, the procedure should be done correctly with satisfying results. Every school in America should require physical education and health classes for every year a student is in attendance; both middle schools and high schools. This requirement would “force” students to partake in physical activity such as exercising, and would create a “healthy” curriculum for their young lives ("Obesity Statistics in the United States”). Promoting a healthy lifestyle would have such a positive impact on their lives. It is better to promote healthy lifestyles through four years of P.E. rather than to ignore the enormous problem and trust uneducated, unhealthy students to struggle through high school, and life, on their own. Jennifer Rice said in an interview that kids are influenced to eat healthy if it is included in their school or home. Only 26% of Americans eat their necessary 3 to 5 servings of vegetables on a daily basis, and one-third of Americans do not have fruit even included in their diets (Brown). As you can see there are plenty of solutions to personal obesity, and progress has been made at the local level across the United States. Is this local progress making a nationwide impact, or are those few people that are losing weight just helping themselves? This must be resolved before it rapidly spreads throughout the future generations to come. There needs to be some sort of “National Fast Food Standards” that promote healthier lifestyles, but the complexity of solving the obesity epidemic demands the collective work of people and state governments to tackle the problem together. Everyone has a slightly different motivation for why they want to make necessary changes (Brown). Progress will not be made without the help of state officials and other leaders to require “higher” health standards in fast food restaurants. Did you know that it costs the average school about five hundred thousand dollars to create and develop a physical education program? Amongst these difficult economic conditions, schools and taxpayers are not likely to support physical education programs, especially when school corporations face the pressure of penalties for not meeting the No Child Left Behind Act set by the George Bush Administration in 2001 when Bush first took office. Some schools are now headed downhill and are being forced to focus their attentions on succeeding in their Math and English classes. It is not surprising that physical education, a subject often not valued as highly as other academic subjects, is not only losing time spent on it, but also not receiving proper funding as well. Some school programs are being completely cut with many faculty members losing their jobs. Could you imagine a school corporation that becoming so financially weak, the only option for keeping sports and extra-curricular activities is to make the students pay large fees to maintain the programs? Well, surprisingly this is happening in our own country. It’s what some refer to as, “pay to play.” This is not a laughing matter; it is actually quite sad for many young teens that have a hard time affording to do what they love to do. To give a real-life example: $250 for tennis team, $200 for National Honor Society, and another $150 for student government club; which puts that students total at $600 for a year of extra-curricular activities! Not to mention all the activities that get cut because together, a couple students can’t afford to maintain all by themselves. This is truly terrible to think about. Why is it that teens are being deprived of physical fitness sports and activities simply because a school corporation can’t afford them? Obesity is becoming a growing problem for American teenagers, and if our national and local government doesn’t resolve of our ongoing economical battles, this epidemic will continue to spiral out of control. In conclusion, Obesity is a topic that mostly everyone in the United States, fat or skinny, can relate to. Obesity is truly a terrible health condition on the inside, but can also be disgusting observe visually on the outside. There are numerous actions you can take to better your personal health and body image. All it takes is that one step in the right direction and you could transform your life. Exercising, eating healthy, and maintaining that proper lifestyle, can, and with a hard work ethic, will transform you into that new person. Along with these solutions, there will always be surgical options. It would also be in the best interest of anyone to attend a school with a financially-stable corporation, so that you will have those opportunities to participate in sports and extra-curricular activities without having to pay a fee. Obesity in America is on the rise now. Whatever the cost people definitely need to start taking better care of their bodies or they could shorten their lives with an illness, or worse-yet die of heart disease.

Works Cited
"Adult Obesity Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2013.
Brown, Julia. "Americans Give In To Junkfood, Plans Aim To Find Out Why." Managed Healthcare Executive 22.6 (2012): 10. Health Business FullTEXT. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. Marten, Ted. "5 Causes of Obesity in America." EHow. Demand Media, 21 Oct. 2009. Web. 17 Apr. 2013 "Overweight and Obesity Statistics." WIN. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. "Obesity In America: What's Driving The Epidemic." Harvard Men's Health Watch 16.7 (2012): 5-6. Health Source - Consumer Edition. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. "Obesity Statistics in the United States." Obesity Statistics in the United States. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. Rice, Jennifer. Personal Interview. 18 Apr. 2013.

White, Erin. "By 2020 Majority Of Adults In America Will Be Overweight, Suffer From Diabetic Conditions." Biomedical Market Newsletter 21. (2011): 559. Health Business. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.

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