Introduction and Statistics
As per the World Health Organization, the United States has one of the largest obesity rates in the world. A 2016 report provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 38% of adults and 17% of teenagers are obese. Additionally, a third of American population is overweight while two-third of this population is obese. The increase in obesity is associated with a significant increase in health care expenditures. According to Ward-Smith (p. 242), the average obese person spends $1,429 more annually than the average American in medical costs. These costs are also felt by the government since it has to set up programs to help eradicate the problem (Essington & Hertelendy, p. 456). To eradicate the problem of obesity successfully, there is need to understand the problem, the possible causes, and implications, and finally, come up with solutions.
Factors Causing Obesity
Various factors are associated with causing obesity. The common causes include genetics and family history, medical conditions, deprivation of sleep, and unhealthy diet. Research has shown that genes can predispose a person to weight gain. The genes passed on by parents affect the metabolic processes which determine the ability of ones body to break down or retain fats in the body. Another gene called FTO is associated with obesity and it heightens the desire for high-fat foods. Deprivation of sleep is also associated with obesity, especially in adolescents. Inadequate sleep is likely to lead to obesity in adolescents. This is because poor sleep is associated with high intake of calories and thus obesity (Jones, p. 275). Obesity could also result from medical conditions whereby the body system is unable to break down food into compounds absorbable to the body. When metabolic processes fail, a person is at risk of becoming obese. Unhealthy diet is another major cause of obesity and overweight issues in America. There is an increase in the intake of junk foods which have high fat and calories content. The high intake is associated with the changes in the social setup of families that have reduced the time available for parents to prepare food at home (Oliver, Eric and Lee, p. 930). This leaves them with the option of carrying ready food from the fast food hotels which are mostly unhealthy. The junk food is also sweeter in comparison with healthy food and children prefer it.
Childhood Obesity and Effects
Childhood obesity poses many risks to the obese child. Among the effects are poor self-esteem, depression, and poor quality of life. Children who are obese may feel less attractive when among the other children this can affect their self-confidence. The situation may lead to stress and depression and even causing them to withdraw from the rest of the peers. Additionally, obesity restricts a child from participating in some activities such as rope skipping or running due to the heavy weight. They may develop health issues and have a poor quality life in comparison with the healthy children (Pearce, Taylor, & Langley-Evans, p. 1296). Another effect of obesity is the development of health complications. Obesity increases the chances of contracting diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and psychological disorders (Ward-Smith, p. 246). The high calorie-level in obese individuals increases the chances of diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease which attacks both children and adults. Diabetes lowers the life expectancy of these people and complicates their lives since they have to constantly regulate their blood sugars. High cholesterol caused by the fats retained in the body increases the chances of developing heart diseases. This condition also leads to hypertension especially in adults and could result in sudden deaths. As mentioned earlier, obesity is associated with poor quality of sleep. Additionally, obese people are more likely to develop psychological problems than healthy individuals. This could be related to the cases of stress, depression, and low self-esteem associated with obesity.
Various solutions have been fronted to minimize and possibly eliminate the problem of obesity in the United States. The two major solutions to the already obese population are regular exercise and taking up a healthy diet. Under regular exercise, obese people should engage in increased physical activities that are helpful in breaking down fats in their bodies and eventually leading to weight loss. These exercises will shield them from the health issues listed above such as high cholesterol and hypertension. On diet, these people should take foods with low fat and calorie levels since these are the two common food compounds that accelerate obesity (Foster, p. 240). The diet should also take into consideration their metabolic processes, and this can be done with the help of a nutritionist. A healthy diet coupled with regular exercise are proven remedies to overcoming obesity. In addition to these, a healthy lifestyle is key to staying fit. This will include avoiding stressors of any kind, social or environmental since these can be the beginning of an unhealthy lifestyle such as overeating or failure to exercise.
In summary, obesity is a prevalent issue in the United States and its alarming increase calls for solutions to its end. Causes of obesity include genetic and family history, medical conditions, sleep deprivation, and unhealthy diet. Effects include low self-esteem, depression, low quality of life, and health issues. The solution can be found in regular exercise, healthy diet, and generally healthy lifestyle.
Essington, M., & Hertelendy, A. J. (2016). Legislating Weight Loss: Are Anti-obesity Public Health Policies Making an Impact? Journal of Health Politics, Policy & Law, 41(3), 453-461. Doi: 10.1215/03616878-3524008
Foster, J. (2011). SUBSIDIZING FAT: HOW THE 2012 FARM BILL CAN ADDRESS AMERICA'S OBESITY EPIDEMIC. University Of Pennsylvania Law Review, 160(1), 235-276.
Jones, K. E., et al. "Is Losing Sleep Making Us Obese?" Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 33, no. 4, Dec. 2008, pp. 272-278.
Oliver, J. Eric and Lee Taeku. "Public Opinion and the Politics of Obesity in America." Journal of Health Politics, Policy & Law, vol. 30, no. 5, Oct. 2005, pp. 923-954.
Ortiz, S. E., Zimmerman, F. J., & Gilliam Jr., F. D. (2015). Weighing In: The Taste-Engineering Frame in Obesity Expert Discourse. American Journal of Public Health, 105(3), 554-559. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302273
Pearce J, Taylor M, Langley-Evans S. Timing of the introduction of complementary feeding and risk of childhood obesity: a systematic review. International Journal of Obesity [serial on the Internet]. (2013, Oct), 37(10): 1295-1306.
Ward-Smith, P. (2010). Obesity -- America's Health Crisis. Urologic Nursing, 30(4), 242-245
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