Thisresearch paper gives an insight to the issue of obesity as well asits increasing prevalence throughout the population in the UnitedStates of America. Again, the paper highlights the chief risk factorsand causes of obesity. Additionally, the paper identifies the extentto which overweight and obesity levels have prevailed in the countryand policy responses employed and incorporated towards tackling thischallenging public health issue. In the end, the paper gives anoverview on various numbers of interventions and treatments that arecurrently being used in the United States of America.
Obesityrefers to the excessive or abnormal accumulation of fat that has ahigh likelihood of impairing an individual health. This issue hasgenerated several debates most people feel that the issue hasreached epidemic levels. Obesity is one of the prevailing problems inthe United States in fact, there has been a dramatic increase in thenumber of people reported to be overweight in the last three decades.It has been reported as one of the major prevailing public healthproblem it is highly connected to several serious medicalcomplications like high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, anddiabetes. According to Anderson, Butcher, & Phillip (2000) athird of the American population has become overweight since the year1980. Other sources show that 54 percent of adults and 25 percent ofadolescents and children are overweight (Anderson et al., 2000). Infact, 58 million of Americans weigh over 20 percent of the idealweight of their body. Undeniably, most people have indulged in eatinghabits that have become more harmful hence, producing gluttonouschildren as well as over-indulgent adults.
Causesand risk factors of obesity
Therehas been a dramatic increase in the level of obesity across all ages,socioeconomic groups, and across both genders. There is no singlestate in the United State that is immune to the epidemic of obesity.Kelly (2009) findings show that the highest rates of obesity werewitnessed in Louisiana (23 percent), Mississippi (24 percent), andWest Virginia (23 percent) in the year 2000. Women have a higherlikelihood of being obese as compared to men even though most mentend to be overweight than women. According to Butland (2007), thelevel of overweight and obesity among both gender increases as theyadvance in age until age 69 when it start to reduce. However, therewas a sharp increase in the rates (70 percent) of overweight andobesity among individuals between the age of 18 and 29 years duringthe last decade. Whites have a less likelihood of becoming obese ascompared to racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. Again,gender disparities exist within racial groups black and MexicanAmerican men have a lower risk of becoming obese as compared to Blackand Mexican American women. According to Critser (2003), white womenin their 20s and early 30s have a slower rate of becoming obese ascompared to black and Hispanic women within the same age bracket.
Nestle& Jacobson (2005) posit that adults have a lesser likelihood ofbecoming obese as compared to children and adults hence, manycommunities face the threat of childhood overweight. The last twodecades have seen the percentage of overweight children aged between6 and 11 and adolescents aged between 12 and 19 increasesdramatically. This is highly linked to the habit of consuming junkfood as well as lack of physical exercises most of these childrenand adolescents spend most of their time in front of the TV.
Anindividual’s socioeconomic status also contributes to either higheror lower risk of becoming obese. Women of lower socioeconomic statushave a higher likelihood of being obese as compared to women withhigher socio economic status in most racial and ethnical groups. Onthe other hand, most men tend to be equally likely to becoming obeseregardless of their socioeconomic status. There tend to be a linkbetween education and obesity people with higher education have alower risk of being obese as compared to people with less than a highschool education.
Manypeople desire for junk food, which has increasingly replacedvegetables and fruits among other healthy edibles. This habit ishighly triggered since junk food is fun, cheap, and quick to buy. Anyfood packed with sodium, sugar, and chemicals, like sweets andhamburgers, can be referred to as junk food. It is not justifiable tolimit junk food to only snacks since fast food also contain certaincontents of sodium, sugar, and chemicals that are far beyond thenutritional value. Kelly (2009) findings show that a good number ofAmericans spend over 4.6 billion dollars on potato chips and 23.5billion on candy and gum on a yearly basis. This is a clearindication that the fast food industry has become one of symbol ofAmerican culture. There are many fast food companies in America thatinclude Pizza Hut, Subway, and McDonalds. Nowadays there are severalcommercial advertisements on junk food thus forcing individuals topurchase a certain junk food whenever they go shopping. The speedand convenience associated with the junk food make it appealing tomany Americans’ pressured lifestyles
ManyAmericans have adopted various environmental and cultural changesthat have enormously reduced their daily opportunities to burnenergy. Overindulge in video/computer games as well as spending manyhours watching TV are some of the activities that have increased thelevel of obesity among Americans especially among adolescents andchildren. Anderson et al (2000) findings indicate that about 43percent of adolescents spend more than 2 hours watching TV. Again,physical-education activities in schools have gradually decreasedfollowing budget pressures as well as curricula demands. Decrease inphysical activities among adults and children in the U.S is alsoattributed to the higher reliance on cars, increasingly automatedworkplace, as well as the utilization of labor-saving machinery inmost of the household chores.
Obesityleads to approximately three hundred thousand deaths in the UnitedStates of America on annual basis. It leads to multiple chronicconditions like high cholesterol and high blood pressure and otherpsychological disorders like asthma. Obese individuals stand a higherrisk of death as compared to individuals with normal-weightindividuals. Approximately 80 percent of adults who suffer fromobesity have coronary heart diseases, high blood pressure, anddiabetes among other disorders. Butland (2007) argue that individualswith increased weight gain stand a higher chance of becoming ill andsuccumbing to death as compared to those with normal weight
Obesitycan further affect the overall quality of an individual life it canlimit an individual physical endurance as well as mobility. An obeseperson further stands a risk of being discriminated in workplace,school, and at various social institutions. Children with excessiveweight often experience mental and social health problems. They alsoface extreme social discrimination from their peers.
Apartfrom social and health impacts of obesity, there are severalfinancial effects associated with this epidemic. Overwhelming carecosts have emerged following the extreme prevalent of obesity amongmany Americans. ..Kelly (2009) findings show that finances that aredirected to public sector to handle obesity and overweight problem isapproximately half of all medical spending. Most of these medicalcosts are related to coronary heart disease, hypertension, and type 2diabetes. Physical activities can significantly reduce the five chiefchronic conditions on which the federal government spendsapproximately 84 billion dollars through Medicare and Medicaidprograms.
Accordingto Nestle et al (2005), there are over 400 genes that are highlyassociated with obesity. This so because genetic factors take part inall aspects of weight regulation including satiety, motivation toexercise, eating behavioral, appetite, and thermogenesis.
Obesitycannot be resolved through a single solution it need to involve avariety of players. It needs to be prevented at early age for it tohave great benefit on individuals’ health and self-esteem. Forinstance, parents should be at forefront in monitoring the amount andtype of food that their children consume on a daily basis. Theyshould cut down the amount of high-calorie snacks and food rich insugar contents. They should also limit the amount of time that theirchildren spend in front of the TV and encourage them to indulge inseveral physical activities (Butland, 2007).
Multicomponentinterventions can be extended to both children and adults theyinclude behavioral change strategies that aim at increasing physicalactivity levels, reduce energy intake, and improving eatingbehavioral. Interventions that are solely directed to children shouldaim at addressing lifestyle within both family and social settings(Critser, 2003). One of the practical estimates of overweight inchildren and young individual is body mass index. Before medics givedrug prescription on adults, they should discuss with the patients onpotential benefits and limitations of such drugs. Appropriate healthprofessionals should offer information, counseling, and support onbehavioral strategies, physical activity, and on additional dietwhenever drug treatment is prescribed. If all of the criteria arefulfilled bariatric surgery is recommended as a treatment options foradults with obesity.
Federalpolicy has been in forefront in responding to obesity in the UnitedStates. The federal government has developed several wellness andnutrition programs aimed at preventing and treating obesity. Most ofthese interventions have supported individuals struggling to decreasetheir energy intake on the other hand, government policies give muchattention to prevailing societal factors that lead to high level ofobesity among Americans (Butland, 2007). They government plays asignificant role in improving access to healthy foods, physicalactivities, public education on obesity, as well as providing medicaland behavioral interventions to its citizens.
Indeed,obesity is one of the prevailing health problems in the UnitedStates. Healthier food choices are one of the preventive measures forobesity. Exercise and other physical activities also play a key rolein reducing chances of becoming obese they help an individual keepfit since they help burn up extra calories.
Anderson,P.M., Butcher, K.F., and Phillip L. (2000). Maternal Employment andOverweight Children, Journalof Health Economics,22, 477-504.
Butland,B.(2007).Tackling Obesities: Future Choices – Project Report, GovernmentOffice for Science:133-135.
Critser,G. (2003). FatLand: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World.New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Kelly,B. (2009). EatingDisorders and Obesity: A Comprehensive Handbook.New York: Guilford Press.
Nestle,M & Jacobson, M. (2005). Halting the Obesity Epidemic: A PublicHealth Policy Approach, PublicHealth Reports, 1,14–15.