Since 1980, cases of obesity among the American citizens have been on the rise to a level that is currently considered a national health crisis. Obesity has reached pandemic proportions with a double burden of weight-related diseases. The situation has been even more alarming among children whose lifespan might reduce to much lower levels compared to their parents'. The report discusses the current situation and how best to move forward.
Statement of health disease
According to the 2013-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 32.7% of U.S adults are overweight, 37.9% are obese, and 7.7% are extremely obese (Ogden 1). The survey utilized the body mass index (BMI) in kilogram per metre square.
31.7% of children of years ranging between 2 and 19 are obese (Barnes 3).
Obesity causes an approximate of 112,000 annual deaths in the United States with 33% of kids born in 2000 expected to grow into obese adults (Barnes 3).
Obesity has some cost implication. An obese adult uses $ 1,429 more than his or her normal-weight counterpart. The medical expenses on obesity-related issues increased from $40 billion to $147 billion between 1998 and 2008. $3 billion is used in medical cost on overweight children (Barnes 3).
Obesity is described as an excess of fat in the body. The body mass index (BMI) is the best-known measure of obesity. This is because direct measurement of body fat is complex. BMI is expressed as weight in kilogram divided by height in meter squared (Ogden 1). A BMI range of between 25 and 29.9 is classified as overweight. Any person with a BMI greater than 30 is considered an obese while 40 is extremely obese.
A person can become obese at any stage of his life. For instance, children born to women who use tobacco or have diabetes have a risk of being obese in their childhood (Barnes 7). Also, the lifestyle of the American citizens which has significantly changed is a contributing factor. Nowadays, kids and adults alike prefer fast food which is known to have excess calories. Furthermore, processed food is readily accessible at a relatively lower cost. The poor eating habits in addition to lack of physical activity are among the leading cause of obesity. Today, many students are driven to school. Therefore, activities such as walking or riding a bicycle have reduced significantly. This trend in addition to video games and watching too much television which leads to lack of enough sleep increases the risk of obesity (Swinburn 12).
Obese individuals have a higher risk of many life lifestyle diseases compared to their normal-weight peers. Conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular complications, arthritis and several types of cancers are more prevalent among obese adults (Barnes 6). In kids, obesity is known to increase the risk of heart disease. Evidence shows that heart disease starts during childhood and is aggravated by higher body mass index. Due to obesity, people as young as 21 start showing signs of cardiovascular complications (Barnes 6). Furthermore, asthma is widespread among obese children. Type 2 diabetes is mostly attributed to overweight and obesity. According to a study in 2001, more than 75% of children, ten years old and above, with type 2 diabetes had a BMI of more than 30 (Barnes 6).
Aside from physical health repercussions, many of the kids suffering from obesity were experiencing a lower quality of life in terms of emotional, educational, physical and social well-being as compared to the normal weight children (Barnes 6). A large number of these kids have low self-esteem and are likely to have psychiatric disorders such as depression.
Steps that can help reduce the prevalence of obesity
The state, the private sectors and individuals, should collectively take action to reduce obesity rampancy.
Government. The government has the responsibility to turn this national health crisis around. The state should take up roles in leadership, advocacy, funding and development of policies (Swinburn 12). United States' leadership should provide a visible guide, reinforce the seriousness and demonstrate the readiness to take action against this problem. This can be achieved through adverts in the media, role modelling healthy behaviours and environment, and lifting the priority for health outcomes over commercial gains (Swinburn 12). Additionally, the government should advocate for a multi-sector response by ensuring the private sector take up a corporate responsibility in their marketing technique to children and encourage a healthy lifestyle among individuals and families. In terms of policy, the government should minimize access to junk food in school through abolishing vending machines in learning institution (Swinburn 12; Barnes 9). Furthermore, a ban on junk food marketing to children will help minimize their exposure to excess calories. The government can reduce the prevalence of obesity through discouraging the purchase of unhealthy foods and encouraging physical activities and exercise.
Private companies. Private entities should strive to develop a healthy culture among its workers and the surrounding community (Barnes 8). The management in the private sector should ensure that they provide healthy food to their staff. The kitchens in these facilities should be equipped with healthy food choices rather than junk food. Additionally, the private sector should avail fitness centres for the community and the staff. Facilities such as gym, and tennis and basketball courts would significantly reduce the extent of weight-related complication.
Individual effort. The ideal way of preventing obesity is to practise a healthy lifestyle which involves adopting healthy diets and frequent exercise. As an individual, one should strive to avoid junk and processed food, and sweetened beverages. Fostering a culture of preparing a family meal assists in evading products which are rich in calories thereby minimizing instances of accumulation of body fats ((Barnes 8)). Other than that, every person should take a personal initiative in doing regular physical exercise. It is advisable to take up activities such as running, walking or any other physically involving task. Instead of using a vehicle, ride a bicycle to work. Take a walk home instead of a bus. Also, to maintain average body weight, a person should reduce the time used in screening. Watching television is likely to bring about laziness, lack of enough sleep and poor eating habit as people tend to eat snacks while watching (Swinburn 12). In general a balance between proper diet, physical exercise and enough rest help to prevent obesity.
In summary, the rising prevalence of obesity and overweight is alarming. Children and adults alike are exposed to medical conditions such as heath disease, cancer, arthritis and type 2 diabetes due to excess body fat. However, this situation can be rectified through collaboration between the government, private sector and the public in enforcing healthy eating and fitness culture.
Barnes, M. "White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity report to the President: solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation." Task Force on Childhood Obesity. 2011.
Swinburn, Boyd A. "Obesity prevention: the role of policies, laws and regulations." Australia and New Zealand health policy 5.1 (2008): 12.
Ogden, Cynthia L., Margaret D. Carroll, and Cheryl D. Fryar. "Prevalence of overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity among adults: United States, trends 1960-1962 through 2013-2014." National Center for Health Statistics 6.1 (2016): 1-6.
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Overweight and Obesity: A National Epidemic Essay. (2022, May 09). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/overweight-and-obesity-a-national-epidemic-essay
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