English Composition 101
November 16, 2014
The Obesity Epidemic
Two-thirds of people in the United States are overweight or obese; about a third of adults – more than 72 million – are obese, which is roughly 30 pounds over a healthy weight (Hellmich 60). Obesity can be defined as, “A condition in which an individual has a high percentage of body fat. A person is considered obese if he or she has a BMI [body mass index] of 30 or higher. A BMI of 40 or more, or 100 pounds (45 kg) over average weight, is termed morbid obesity. This condition is considered medically disabling and likely to shorten life expectancy” (Murphy 104). According to the CDC website, “Research has shown that as weight increases to reach the levels referred to as ‘overweight’ and ‘obesity’, the risks for the following also increase: Coronary heart disease, type two diabetes, cancers, hypertension, stroke, liver and gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and many other health problems” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). From fast food sales increasing tremendously, families being overweight, and portion sizes exceeding serving sizes, we can see why obesity is such a huge problem for Americans. The need for fast, reliable, affordable, and convenient food, along with an increasing acceptance among Americans of a more homogenous culture, led to the rise of the fast food industry (Woloson 71). “Americans eat fewer meals at home than they once did. Fast-food restaurants are very effective at promoting the convenience and dollar value of their offerings” (Murphy 59). “Annual sales of fast food in the United States have grown from about $6 billion in the late 1970s to more than $140 billion in the twenty-first century” (Murphy 59). In 1996, 7% of the population ate at the 11,400 McDonald's each day in the United States (Woloson 74). It’s easier for people to “grab and go”. Meaning that many families have after school activities like soccer practice or trumpet lessons so when time is limited and you need to get dinner you have to do something quick like going through the drive thru at McDonald’s. “The move toward eating out comes with a big health cost. Compared to home-cooked meals, most food at fast-food restaurants has more fat, more sugar, more salt, and fewer kinds of nutrients that a healthy body needs” (Murphy 60). Parents have significant influence on the weight of their children through genetics and the environment. “Being overweight tends to run in families. If a child’s parents are heavy, the child’s risk of becoming overweight is fifteen times greater than if both parents are slim. The food choices parents make for their children and the atmosphere that surrounds the dining experience in the home influence a child’s physical development. Families don’t just share their genes. They also tend to share the same diet, economic circumstances, and lifestyle habits” (Murphy 31). Scientists are beginning to see the connection between genetics and the way people manage their weight. Genetics affect metabolism, the ways in which people store fat, how active they are, and other factors (Murphy 41). “Eating together as a family tends to help family members eat in a healthier way. Meals at home also tend to be healthier than those in restaurants” (Hellmich 33). “Research shows that four out of ten children who are above-average weight at four years of age will be obese as adults, unless something is done to change their habits. And the risk increases in adolescence. Eight out of ten teenagers whose BMIs exceed healthy limits are on the track to obesity in their adult years” (Murphy 8). Keeping junk food and pop out of the house can help prevent over eating and can help make a difference in your family. Getting physical activity everyday as a family can help show your kids that you care about their fitness (Hellmich 33). Another factor that contributes to obesity is when portion sizes exceed serving sizes. “It’s very...
Cited: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 27 April 2012. Web site. 2 November 2014.
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