Obesity is defined as being overweight due to an accumulated amount of fat greater than the body’s average amount of fat capacity. According to the National Institutes of Health, an obese person’s body weight is at least 10 percent greater than the recommended weight. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over the past 20 years, obesity has increased. There are currently over a third of American adults that are obese and 17 percent of children, ages 2-19 who are also obese. In 2004 obesity was ranked as the number one health risk to face America in coming years, and this prediction is growing closer and closer to the truth as many are overeating and not exercising.
Obesity occurs for a variety of reasons in America, a few causes of the epidemic:
- Our food is changing. Twenty years ago when we used to grab a hamburger with lettuce and tomato on a roll it couldn’t do too much harm. Today, the burger can have traces of hormones, the tomato and lettuce may have traces of pesticide and breads, which consist of mostly carbohydrates, turned to sugar which is a leading cause in obesity.People think that our food has not changed in recent years, allowing them to follow the same eating habits. Drinks are taller, burgers are wider and fries are greasier. More and more ingredients are coming into the mix causing food to change each day. When we grab a drink or snack from the convenience store, we may have no clue what we are actually eating.
- Calorie intake. Americans are taking in more calories than the body needs or can burn off. When the body takes in such a large quantity of calories each day the calories are going to turn into fat. The average calorie consumption of an American adult in 2009 increased by 500 calories each day in comparison to an American adult in the 1970s.
- Reduced exercise. Americans are not exercising as much as they should, if they are even exercising at all. In 2012 it was reported that 24 percent of adults met the physical activity guidelines for aerobic physical activity.
Having obesity causes a strain on the body which can cause illness and disease. The body is unable to function as quickly and productively as a healthy body would, which causes the immune system to work at a slower pace. Diseases that are common among obese patients are: heart disease, type II diabetes, cancers such as endometrial, breast, and colon, hypertension or high blood pressure, stroke, liver and gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, osteoarthritis and in some cases even death. All of these illnesses and obesity are all preventable.
Becoming obese does not only affect the person’s health, it can also affect their mentality. Overweight people are often thought to be unhealthy, un-energetic and in some people’s eyes unappealing. Obese people can experience difficulty with everyday tasks, such as making friends, finding jobs and even walking in public. People facing the issue of obesity have feelings of being insecure because of their size, which causes them to come off as shy or uninterested in others. The public has created a stigma of obese people to be lazy as a result of their eating habits and lack of exercise. This stigma causes insecurity issues in obese patients to rise.
Dealing with obesity is not only a health related issue, but it is also becoming an economic issue. In 2008, national medical care costs averaged at $147 billion. Medications, surgeries, and health assistance due to obesity are a few of the causes of the costs of obesity. Some may have surgeries to lose weight, while others may be forced into surgery due to their health status.
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- Angela Ciroalo is a New Jersey writer, who is obsessed with healthy eating and helping others. Her favorite cause is Homelessness and Poverty because she believes it is often overlooked.