OBESITY IS NOT A VERDICT
Obesity is a rising global concern that has taken a toll on annual health costs across the country. Besides causing a huge health burden, the impact of obesity has contributed to decreased productivity and increased absenteeism among members of our society. It becomes necessary to sensitize the private and public sector partners, medical professionals as well as the public to adopt strategies that will make healthier choices easier to make.
What Is Obesity?
Obesity is a health condition characterized by excessive accumulation of body fat, usually over 20% of an individual's average body weight. It is associated with an enormous amount of health complications (high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer), disability and even death.
Individuals with a Body Mass Index of more than 30 are considered to be obese and those with a BMI of 25-29.9 are deemed to be overweight. As the condition continues to become an increasing concern in the United States, individuals have developed an interest in a field of medicine dealing with the study and treatment of obesity otherwise known as bariatrics. Further, it is common fortudents to be asked to write argumentative essays (see How to write an argumentative essay) on obesity or other lifestyle issues during their academic career. You can sign up to buy your obesity essay online for an original, high-quality essay that is written from scratch by professional academic experts.
Obesity Key Facts
From a global perspective, the rise of obesity has been gradual but constant ever since 1980. The American Obesity Association in partnership with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that an estimated 15.5 percent of adolescents aged 12-19 years and 15.3 percent of children aged 6 to 11 years are obese.
The condition has continued to increase over the years affecting 78.6 million people in the United States and more than 700 million people in the world. Among the 78.6 million people in the U.S, an estimated 112,000 deaths have been linked to obesity each year making it one of the leading preventable causes of death. As the cases of obesity continue to grow internationally, so are the annual medical costs for an average of $147 billion being spent in the U.S. on the treatment of obesity and its related health problems.
Why Do People Become Obese?
The leading causes of obesity are overeating and lack of physical activity. When a person takes up more calories than he or she can consume (metabolize), the excess is converted to fats that pile up with time leading to weight gain. The imbalance between calorie intake and consumption is also influenced by age, gender, genes, psychological makeup, certain health conditions, socioeconomic and environmental factors.
1.Physical Inactivity. Many Americans are not active and easily take in more calories than they can burn through physical exercise or normal daily activities. Some of the reasons that encourage inactivity include driving, fewer physical demands because of modern technology, longer TV viewing hours, etc.
2.Unhealthy diets. Consumption of unhealthy meals containing high levels of calories like red meat, unhealthy fats, processed foods and sugary drinks plays a major role in obesity. People with eating disorders such as binge eating also develop obesity.
3.Lifestyle habits. A sedentary lifestyle where people are stuck in a routine of long working hours with little room for exercise, oversized food portions, inactivity, inaccessibility to healthy foods due to cost or advertising that sways people to buy high-calorie foods.
4.Genes. The genetics of a person will determine if a person is likely to develop obesity. Genes play a significant role in metabolism efficiency, storage, and distribution of body fat. If one or both parents are obese, there is an increased risk of weight gain hence the need to maintain healthy lifestyles that can counteract these genetic effects.
5.Medical conditions. Certain medical conditions such as Cushing's syndrome, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) will contribute to obesity. Some medications are also linked to weight gain like some varieties of corticosteroids, antidepressants, and seizure medicines.
Childhood obesity is defined in terms of BMI (Body Mass Index), a formula that takes into account a child's age and sex-specific percentile to determine body fat, health risk, and well-being. Obesity in children and adolescents is considered as a BMI greater than the 95th percentile.
Obese children are more likely to have risk factors for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, depression, low self-esteem, and stigmatization. Childhood obesity often persists into adulthood and could be associated with numerous chronic illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, stroke, various types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.
Top 5 Most Obese Countries
Countries that show the highest obesity problems in the world are most exclusively found in the Pacific Islands.
American Samoa (74.6%), Nauru (71.1%) and Cook Islands (63.7%) top the list of countries reported to have the highest proportion of people viewed as obese. Other countries like Tokelau (63.4%) and Tonga (57.6%) follow closely with the U.S. ranking at 18th position with 33% and the UK at 43rd place with 27% of the population being obese.
What Is Worse: Obesity or Anorexia?
Eating disorders like anorexia and obesity have detrimental health effects that could lead to death. Both obesity and anorexia are complex neurobiological disorders with metabolic consequences that have strong genetic and environmental underpinnings.
While anorexics intentionally starve themselves even to death and have a fear of gaining weight, obese people are incredibly overweight. Anorexia may be a fatal psychiatric disorder due to its ability to lead to other mental disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression that could cause one to commit suicide. This isn't to say that anorexia is a more dangerous problem than obesity as both conditions pose as deadly health risks.
Life Without Obesity
It is important for individuals to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a steady body weight by eating healthy meals, engaging in physical exercise and making meaningful societal changes.
Careful individualized treatment will often be required for individuals with overweight and obesity problems to help reverse the rising epidemic rates of these conditions. Reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight helps people to lower the risk of developing serious health concerns, boost one's self-confidence and gives more energy to enjoy life.
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According to statistics from the Center of Disease and Control (2013), over 35.7% of Americans are obese. The most obvious of causes for such a huge amount of fat derives from terrible eating habits and lack of physical activity. These issues occur due to the direction of American culture. With America undergoing an era of recession, many people have relied on welfare and lost their sense of hope, which in has led them to being inactive at home. The activities that follow come from another aspect of America’s culture, electronic media. People are less motivated to exercise, when TV and surfing the Internet has been such a bubble of comfort. Organic foods are a healthy, but expensive commodity in America. Many Americans can’t afford to purchase such material, so they have to rely on the abundant diversity of fast food and microwaveable dinners.
One may ask, why should we care about the obese population and lifestyle? Obesity is covered with statistics of fatality and disease. 18% of American deaths from 1986 to 2006 are caused by obese symptoms to adults between the ages of 40 and 75 (Masters, Reither, Powers, Yang, Burger & Link, 2013, pp.1900). Although there has been no recent statistics, Masters and his co-writers assure (2013, pp.1900) that goals made in retaliation to such alarming results have not been met, which means obesity is still a current issue for American fatality. Even for those that live and breathe, obesity has been a major hindrance in lifestyle as the obese lack motor skills to move around, which restricts them to wheel chairs. On top of this fact, the issue of immobility has given family members the burden of constantly tending to an obese person’s needs.
From the recent statistics and facts mentioned previously, it is clear that methods to tackle American obesity has not been effective. Americans lack the ability to purge obesity, so a change must occur in three of America’s institutions.
The first institutions worth changing are American schools. 18% of America’s children from the ages of six to eleven are obese. Another 18% of America’s teenagers from the ages of twelve to nineteen are also obese (CDC Adolescent, 2013). The best way to stop a cancer is to attack at its early stages. For future generations, it is the duty of the American education system to not only focus on a student’s academics, but their health also. Schools will need to change their physical education system in order to help limit obesity. Firstly controlled study in UK shows that playgrounds with designs that promote active games bring a 20% long-term improvement in physical activity (Sallis&Glanz, 2009, p. 130). With such a positive result, the US Government should put more investment into improving elementary school playgrounds. Secondly, schools will need to bribe their students into being more physically active. Recently Michelle Obama has developed the Presidential Youth Fitness Test, a school-program that promotes healthy physical activity without intimidating students away due to the hierarchy of competitiveness. The new program will be enforced in 25% of American schools by 2013 and 90% by 2018 (Obama, n.d.). Even though the Presidential Youth Fitness Test is an inspiring idea, it’s voluntary aspect doesn’t give students the incentive to free their extracurricular time. To out of shape students that get low marks in their compulsory physical education classes, applying extra credit to the Presidential Youth Fitness will be a good leverage of motivation.
The second institutions that will need changing are restaurants. According to J.F. Sallis and K. Glanz (2009), writers of the Milbank Quarterly, the amount of food consumed outside of households have increased in America. They believed that the growing reliance on consuming in restaurants has had a negative effect on the American diet as people have consumed more calories and fat, while lacking on fruits, vegetable and fiber. To limit nutritional issues present, restaurants must first regard the health of America’s youth as a major priority. Menus for children should be based on low calories and less sugar. Such a change won’t damage a restaurants customer base, as parents will want their children to eat healthy. Secondly, researchers believe that restaurants can tackle obesity more effectively by improving calorie listings and providing “health options” online. Their studies have shown that this method has been more efficient than simply providing the details on menus in restaurants, as people need to plan their diet before entering restaurant doors (Whiteman, 2013).
The final institution worth noting is the American Government. No other institution can be affecting the issue of obesity better than the system that has the power to control the whole country. The government can implement two policies in order to limit the issue of obesity. First of all, the government should change its agricultural priority. According to Aaron Sankin (2013), a writer of Huffington Post Canada, the government has invested $50 million of it’s capital into agricultural crops that promote negative effects on nutrition (Corn, Soy, Wheat). These crops have been a contributor for fattening additives and feeding cattle. The lack of financial emphasis on healthy fruits and vegetables have risen their prices in the market, which in turn makes people less inclined to purchase them. Therefore if the government wants the public to purchase healthier goods, then they need to invest in healthier crops. Secondly, the government could kill two birds with one stone by hosting charity walkathons. By creating such an event, the government can encourage communities to become more active and thus create a cultural change against inactivity. The sponsorships from these events can be put into building facilities that can further emphasize physical activity or tackle issues of nutrition.
America has been known as a land of opportunity and change. If brave selfless leaders from these institutions can spark the flare by implementing these opportunistic solutions against obesity, then America can change back into a healthy and active nation.
Dan , G., Parker, L., Sim, L., Cook, H., & Miller, E. (2012). Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention : Solving the Weight of the Nation. Washington, D.C., USA: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.cityu.edu.hk/lib/cityu/docDetail.action?docID=10565364
Harding, A. (2009, 18). CNN.com International – Breaking, World, Business, Sports, Entertainment and Video News. Obesity can shorten lifespan up to a decade – CNN.com. Retrieved November 6, 2013, from http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/18/healthmag.obesity.lifespan/index.html
Masters, R., Reither, E., Powers, D., Yang, C., Burger, A., & Link, B. (2013). The Impact of Obesity on US Morality Levels: The Importance of Age and Cohorts Factors in Population Estimates. American Journal of Public Health,103(10), 1895-1901.
Obama, M. Let’s Move!. Accomplishments | Let’s Move!. Retrieved from http://www.letsmove.gov/accomplishments
Sallis , J., & Glanz, K. (2009). Physical Activity and Food Environments: Solutions to the Obesity Epidemic. The Milbank Quarterly, , 123-154. Retrieved , from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25474362
Sankin, A. (2013, 18). Huffington Post Canada – Canadian News Stories, Breaking News, Opinion. Agriculture Subsidies Promote Obesity, Charges New Study. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/18/agriculture-subsidies-obesity_n_3607481.html
Whiteman, H. (2013, 20). Medical News Today: The Latest Health News. Restaurants ‘should help tackle obesity’ through apps and websites – Medical News Today. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265044.php
(2013, 10). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC – Obesity – Facts – Adolescent and School Health. Retrieved November 6, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm
(2013, 16). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity and Overweight for Professionals: Data and Statistics: Adult Obesity – DNPAO – CDC. Retrieved November 6, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html