University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession with Weight Is Hazardous to Your Health
The obesity menace is a global pandemic that has to be addressed sooner or later. This is because of the increasing number of unhealthy individuals walking the streets. The irony of the matter is that despite the sorry state of affairs regarding obesity huge amounts of profits continues to trickle to the big fast food joints spread across the world. There has been a lot of blame shifting concerning the subjects with some quarters blaming the pandemic on the food corporations while others blaming it on the poor lifestyle choose by people (Campos 32). The problem however has been more pronounced in America and has become a critical public health concern. The issues surrounding obesity are multi-faceted and because of this, the solutions towards this epidemic require interdisciplinary integration bringing together stakeholders in the food industry, health care providers, government and the consumer. The consumer is the key to finding a lasting solution to this problem. This paper will make an analysis of the obesity situation in the world particularly in America, the driving force behind the epidemic and possible solutions to counter this menace that is taking over America.
The problem however has been more pronounced in America and has become a critical public health concern. The issues surrounding obesity are multi-faceted and because of this, the solutions towards this epidemic require interdisciplinary integration bringing together stakeholders in the food industry, health care providers, government and the consumer. The consumer is the key to finding a lasting solution to this problem. This paper will make an analysis of the obesity situation in the world particularly in America, the driving force behind the epidemic and possible solutions to counter this menace that is taking over America.
The complexity of obesity issues is even proving a hard nut to crack for scientist even with their advanced technology. Some instances of obesity in people indicate that genetics are responsible. The fact of the matter is that, different combinations of metabolic, hormonal and behavioral factors play a huge role in obesity. To date it is so difficult to tell the exact cause of obesity apart from the stereotype that obesity is caused by excessive food intake. Obesity has been increasing at a very alarming rate in the industrialized countries across the world.
Statistics show that in less than four decades, the obesity prevalence in America has had a surge of over fifty percent (Campos 32). This simply means that every two out of three American is either obese or overweight. The saddening fact is that the epidemic is even spreading to the younger generation that is growing up. There are numerous opportunistic diseases that are associated with these instances of obesity. These include diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, arthritis and even erectile dysfunction in men. Obesity is responsible for one in every 10 American death recorded. Furthermore, the epidemic costs the economy billions of dollars spent on treatment and measures to control the menace.
Obesity implications in both children and adults include an increased risk of chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental disorders including depression, which make up a significant part of the healthcare burden in America. Specific obesity related health challenges to children are shown in below (table 1), which have an immediate impact that can lead to increased mortality in adulthood. causes of overweight and obesity in children is attributed to a lack of exercise, the amount of TV/Computer games watched and poor eating habits, particularly the convenience and availability of unhealthy foods and soft drinks from schools and fast food chains. other contributing factors that must be acknowledged and considered when developing a program to reduce the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity include gender, culture, ethnicity and socio-economic status. These factors require the coordination of multiple stakeholders with various responsibilities to address this challenge, and a multifactorial approach should be considered.
Obesity is mostly caused by the lack of physical activity in children. This has been caused by the changing dynamics in the childhood life. About four decades ago, the work in the private sector required some minimal physical activity. In the wake of the new millennium with advancements in technology, below 20 percent demand physical activity (Ingram 72). Some scholars blame technology to these increasing cases of obesity in America. The lessening of the workload from children and heaping the same to machines has resulted in this sharp increase in obesity. The technological advancements in manufacturing and agricultural sectors have led to a drop in human energy required to produce. It is important for men the average worker to burn a few calories in the process of doing their job. Inactivity at home is contributory towards extra weight gain that brings obesity.
Another causative agent of excessive weight gain is the modern form of recreation available to man. If they are not at their work stations most Americans spend their leisure activity stuck in front of the television screen or the computer. These kinds of activities prevent indulgence in physical activity that is beneficial to one’s health. The information age promotes the culture of sitting behind the television sets that are full of tempting advertisements on junk foods that lure viewers to try. This in extension results in instances of excessive body weight. The sitting and lazing around culture could be associated to cardiovascular risks.
Modern eating habits are also contributory towards the obesity epidemic. The changes in eating habits affect weight. The concentration on snacks and large portions of fast foods contributed to this weight gain. Consumption of fast foods with high calorie content is also contributory to excessive weight gains. The food consumed portions are responsible for the high calories intake. Soda is the largest contributor to caloric glut (Oliver 121).
An average American in essence has increased weight issues as a result of seating around and consuming more food. The technological advancements have resulted in a slump in the energy used at work. The motivating factor towards this alarming trend of obesity in America is the social circles influences. Nutritionist and doctor’s advocate for responsive eating habits coupled with regular exercises. The food industry has to cut down on the advertisement on “harmful” foods to demotivate the consumers from overconsumption of some of their products despite the profits accrued to them.
It is important for the nation as a whole to realign in order to discourage this growing trend of overweight. It therefore upon every American individual to take up their own responsibility to diet exercise and have a good health.
From the above analysis of the obesity menace in American children, it is clear that the choices one makes on an individual level affect their weight. It is crucial to make life choices that work for a person. To avoid obesity at all levels, a wise overall lifestyle pattern would produce the desired results. Doing an overview of one’s lifestyle is thus important because obesity as it is as controversial and complex as weight gain. Imploring several questions surrounding the obesity like if the matter is genetically driven or habitual should be pondered on. The choice to take up aerobics and other exercises is important in dealing with the obesity menace. Various research findings in the medical field are full of conflicts and controversies surrounding the obesity menace in America.
Table 1. Adverse Health outcomes associated with obesity in children
Immediate adverse health problems Psychological dysfunctionSocial isolationBody dissatisfaction possibly leading to eating disordersAsthma
Adverse health outcomes which may develop in the short term Gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular,endocrine and orthopaedic problemsReproductive system abnormalitiesMenstrual abnormalitiesHigh intra-abdominal adipose tissueType 2 diabetesHypertensionHigh cholesterol
Adverse health outcomes which may develop in the intermediate term High prevalence of cardiovascular diseaserisk factorsTracking of cardiovascular mortality andmorbidity into adulthoodHigh level of creatine protein (may lead to coronary heart disease)
School-based innovations to address childhood obesity can be effective when developed and implemented correctly, but can also come at a high cost with further evidence needed to demonstrate long term results and cost effectiveness. It is important to continue to learn from programs that have been run in Australia and abroad, and use this experience to develop sustainable, multi-faceted programs with appropriately trained and skilled leaders and whole-community and parental engagement. Any programs that are developed should have robust evaluation measures in place to quantify success, and sole responsibility should not fall on the schooling system.
In general, weight gain issues involve simple arithmetic such that the more calories one ingests than they burn, the higher the chances of gaining weight abnormally. The simple arithmetic involved in this is the more you take the more you burn. By doing so one is guaranteed a healthy lifestyle. To control one’s weight it is critical that one takes fewer calories. This has proven to be the biggest challenge in the 21st century America. Nutritionist advice that it is important to take in more fruits, vegetables and non-fat dairy products to ensure we have a healthy lifestyle other than indulging more in fast food eateries that serve mostly sugary drinks and fried processed foods.
It is thus important to control the weight we take by exercising more through brisk walking or hitting the gym. In case one is overweight they should not loose self-esteem but rather take it up to themselves to engage in more gym sessions as permitted by their health. The buck stops with personal decisions by embracing the national trend of making prudent lifestyle choices (Snowberger 101). After all said and done, this issue is a personal conviction and whoever makes the wisest choice is guaranteed a healthy lifestyle. If the above possible solutions to the obesity menace are followed to the latter then the problem would be completely eradicated in America. This would lead to a reduced health care expenditure on obesity related complications. As such America would be a healthy nation.
Campos, Paul F. The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession with Weight Is Hazardous to Your Health. Chicago: Penguin, 2004.Print.
Ingram, Scott. Want Fries With That?: Obesity And The Supersizing Of America. New York: Franklin Watts, 2005 .Print.
Oliver, J Eric. Fat Politics : The Real Story behind America’s Obesity Epidemic. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.Print.
Segrave, Kerry. Obesity in America, 1850-1939: A History of Social Attitudes and Treatment. New York: McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub, 2008.Print
Snowberger, Eliza. Obesity in America and Worldwide. London: BiblioBazaar, 2011.Print.