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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It has long been debated whether obesity is a relative measure and should not be used as a stigma to label overweight people. However, the fact is, when the weight of a person significantly exceeds a certain norm for their age and gender, the health and well-being of a person tends to generally decrease in quality. Obesity might not be a serious disease in the commonly established meaning of this term, since it is not contagious like the flu, irreversible like AIDs, or deadly like cancer. Yet it has been proven there are numerous links to a higher probability of heart-related diseases, depression and passiveness, diabetes, and premature aging of the body as a whole and the brain in particular. Moreover, obesity decreases the general quality of life, since it becomes difficult for an obese person to enjoy simple activities, stay energetic and active, succeed in sports, and enjoy a full-range diet. Thus, when talking about obesity in a country like America, where the problem is especially acute and critical, we need to consider the most probable causes and factors of obesity in order to come up with an effective health program to deal with this issue in the United States.
Obesity can be argued to be genetically predisposed and there is little governments and NGOs can do about this fact. It is true that some people are born with a higher probability of being overweight and eventually obese than others (Porps 73). However, such predisposition cannot be considered a purely “American problem” since it is almost equally spread amongst different races and ethnicities. Statistically, around 20% of people in the world suffer from obesity. However, this number is significantly higher for the US population. Thus, we need to look at those factors that could explain why the problem of obesity is more serious in America than in, for example, Germany, Russia, or Brazil. One of such factors is the factor of eating habits.
Americans have a tendency towards substantial fast food and soft drink consumption. Eating french fries, pizza, cheeseburgers, and drinking Coca-Cola are the top metabolism inhibitors in modern American society. By consuming such foods and drinks regularly, American teenagers, adults, and children slow down their metabolism by up to 12 times, as research has proven (Henrix 122). This means the same amount of food will be digested and absorbed 12 times slower by an American teen than by a healthy-eating Russian or African child. Moreover, numerous health issues such as ulcers, dysbacteriosis, cholecystitis, and diabetes, which are also directly related to one’s eating habits, have a negative influence on a person’s weight and the amount of fat in a body. Hence, when working towards decreasing obesity rates, we need to start from completely changing our dietary habits and refraining from eating fast foods or drinking soft drinks.
Another point to consider when talking about American dieting habits is the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in their everyday ration. We seem to think a glass of orange juice, watered down from concentrate and flavored with artificial sweeteners, or a few grapes on top of a cupcake for dessert, or a bowl of spinach salad for dinner, does the trick and provides the necessary amount of vitamins, microelements, and minerals for our body and mind. However, this is far from being true, as dietitians inform. Five different fruits and five different vegetables a day is the minimum requirement for healthy development (Parker 56). The key is to eat in variety and to eat fresh, garden-grown products. In the United States, there are few places where fresh, recently-picked, and naturally-grown fruits and vegetables are sold at local markets. In the majority of cases, it is the supermarket chains which distribute such products to Americans across the country. Fruit and vegetables from a supermarket, like Wallmart or Safeway, do not supply us with even half of the valuable nutrients compared to fruits and vegetables from one’s own garden, picked right before consumption and grown without using pesticides and fertilizers.
Unfortunately, keeping our own gardens and growing our own fruits and vegetables is not an act most Americans are able or willing to do. Then, is there a solution? Organic food, which many consider to be rather pricy, is in fact much healthier than what we are offered in the regular chain supermarkets. When it comes to health, prevention and precaution are less expensive than the treatment afterwards. The solution that is most suitable for an average American family is to shop organic, fresh, and healthy, choosing vegetables and fruits over unhealthy calorie-booster snacks like chips, pretzels, and donuts (Open 43).
One more important factor we often forget about when investigating the reasons for high obesity rates in the United States is the factor of portion size. Comparative studies have often proven the size of an average serving portion in America is many times higher than in the majority of other countries. For instance, one portion of pasta in an average American middle-class restaurant can be split into 3.6 Japanese portions, 3.2 Chinese portions, 3.1 French portions, 2.8 Russian portions, 2.3 Polish portions and 2.2 Italian portions (Kin 21). Do Americans need to eat this much? We are not the tallest or the most active nation in the world, but for some reason, we consume twice as much as the Dutch, who ride bicycles while we drive cars, or the Russians, who walk by foot an average of 2.9 miles a day while we barely do half a mile. Americans are getting used to eating more than their body needs since early childhood. Next time we go to a restaurant to order a full bowl of salad followed by a huge plate of spaghetti and a glass of ice tea, we need to remind ourselves how our stomachs are only the size of an average man’s fist normally, but not if you stuff it with loads of food.
Whether we like to admit it or not, obesity is a problem for Americans. The quality of life and the state of health of Americans is much lower than it should be. Some may argue they try to live an active life, doing sports and participate in community activities, but they still have weight problems. This is the case for many Americans who forget that along with changing their lifestyle, going to a gym and running in the mornings, they need to cardinally change their eating habits, consume more fresh and healthy natural foods, stop eating junk food, lessen their portions by half and start eating smart.
Porps, Brain. Genetic Basis of Obesity. Cambridge: Cambridge Press, 2011. Print.
Henrix, William. Soft Drinks and Metabolism. Seattle: Rain City Press, 2010. Print.
Parker, Jones. The Five Secrets to Food. Connecticut: Bridge Publishing, 2009. Print.
Open, Rimpa. How to Shop Organic in a Non-Organic Society . London: Ioatolla Press, 2008. Print.
Kin, Richard. Portions of Mind and Stomach. New York: Boulevard Publishing, 2009. Print.
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