There are many causes for the growing rise of obesity in America. Too much food, too little exercise, and genetics top the list of reasons as to why the United States of America is the unhealthiest country compared to the rest of the world. Regardless of the exact cause of this phenomenon, obesity in the United States has become an epidemic. In fact, it has grown in such vast proportions that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has begun to compile data and statistics on the disease. There are many factors that are present when researching this growing problem. Some of those factors include age, socioeconomic status, gender, and ethnicity. If you find yourself struggling with converting all this research into a final draft, you may benefit from ordering a sample expository essay from Ultius to use as a point of reference.
It’s hard to be optimistic when your fat-pants are too tight: Obesity in the United States
Obesity is the cause of many health issues, psychological problems, and societal deficits. It is becoming more of problem that we are facing as a society, instead of the individual issue that it was once known to be. Obesity is a highly researched topic, as well as topic of debate among healthcare, government, and business professionals alike. This epidemic will not be remedied until a more informed outlook is brought upon the American people. It is important that Americans understand the nature of every facet of this problem so that it can one day be remedied.
Statistics on obesity
An individual’s Body Mass Index, or BMI generally measures obesity. An individual’s BMI is calculated by considering such factors as weight, height, and waist size. Normal BMIs usually fall below 25%. “Adults with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight, while individuals with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese” (The State of Obesity). In children, obesity is measured a little differently. The causes of childhood obesity are vast and consider a plethora of various aspects of a child’s life. If a child’s weight is between 85% and 95% they are considered overweight. Anything above the 95th percentile is considered obese (The State of Obesity).
A few things that the CDC tells us about obesity include the facts that:
- More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese.
- Obesity is higher among middle age adults, 40-59 years old (39.5%) than among younger adults, age 20-39 (30.3%) or adults over 60 or above (35.4%) adults.
- Higher income women are less likely to have obesity than low-income women.
- The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. (CDC)
An examination of obesity percentages state-by-state reveals that Arkansas, West Virginia, and Mississippi have the highest incidences of obesity in the entire country. Their rates are all over 35% (The State of Obesity). Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and Colorado have the lowest rates at around 21% to 22% (The State of Obesity). It is a shocking realization that the entire country is at least 21% obese. In regard to gender and ethnicity, women have a tendency to have the highest prevalence of obesity. Data from the NHANES, BRFSS, and the Add Health study reveal that in 1999 to 2002:
- The combined prevalence and the prevalence of obesity among non-Hispanic Black women was 20 percentage points higher than among White women.
- The prevalence of extreme obesity among African-American women was more than twice that among White and Mexican-American women.
- Among non-Hispanic Black women aged 40 years or older, more than 80 percent were overweight or obese, and more than 50 percent were obese. (Wang, Beydoun)
Interestingly, closely related to linking gender and ethnicity to obesity is the connection between obesity and low density living in the US.
Obesity: US versus other countries
Though obesity rates in the United States, as well as around the globe are slowing down slightly, America remains one of the most obese countries in the world. Females in Mexico have a slight edge over American females, but we are still the most obese nation in the world. Countries with the smallest rates of obesity include Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia, and India (OECD). Those countries with rates the closet to American rates include Mexico, New Zealand, Hungary, and Australia (OECD). In regards to child obesity, America tops the charts again, yet Greece, Italy, New Zealand, and Slovenia have significantly higher rates (OECD). The lowest rates of obesity in other parts of the world include Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey, and Norway (OECD).
There have been correlations made to obesity and economic crisis. It has been found that households that suffer from economic hardships, no matter where in the world, also see a change in obesity rates. This is often due to a lack of financial resources families are not able to afford fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other healthier foods. This is substantiated by statements such as:
In 2008, the world economy entered one of the most severe crises ever. Many families, especially in the hardest hit countries, have been forced to cut their food expenditures, and tighter food budgets have provided incentives for consumers to switch to lower priced and less healthy foods. (OECD)
In addition to a lack of nutrition education to prevent obesity, a lack of finances is more often to blame:
An Australian study found that people who experienced financial distress in 2008-09 had a 20% higher risk of becoming obese than those who did not. Financial hardship affects all household members. American children in families experiencing food insecurity are 22% more likely to become obese than children growing in other families. (OECD)
Health ramifications of obesity
The health ramifications involved with obesity are countless. In addition to obesity as a disease, there are multiple comorbidities that present themselves in individuals who are deemed obese. Those comorbidities include:
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems
- Some cancers (endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver)
- Gall Bladder issues, such as gall stones (CDC)
Trimming down even slightly can cause these risks to also decrease. WebMD tells that losing even 5% to 10% of your total body weight, if your obese, decreases the risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and those certain types of cancer (DerSarkissian). Harvard’s School of Public Health has provided some useful information on the topic of these risks and how they are affecting those who live with obesity. According to them, individuals who have a BMI of 30 or higher have a:
- 12-fold higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
- 32% higher risk of developing coronary artery disease
- 64% higher risk of having a stroke
- 55% higher risk of developing depression
- 50% higher risk of developing asthma (The President and Fellows of Harvard College)
Because most of our body’s physiological systems are intertwined, once obesity related issues take hold many aspects of our health are compromised. Ultimately, obesity is one of the number one causes of premature death as a result of all the comorbidities that accompany obesity.
Combating obesity in the U.S.
There are many ways that we can fight obesity epidemic. America has more control over obesity than ever before, largely due to a nationwide recognition of the health risks associated with eating fast food, as more specifically pointed out in this sample research paper on the topic. The first step would be to know what your Body Mass Index is and keep watch over it. Because obesity is such a complicated epidemic, many state and local agencies, healthcare professionals, and the everyday individual can play unique roles in fighting obesity.
Policy makers, state and local organizations, business and community leaders, school, childcare and healthcare professionals, and individuals must work together to create an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle. There are several ways state and local organizations can create a supportive environment to promote healthy living behaviors that prevent obesity. (CDC)
The federal government has even become involved in regards to childhood obesity. The implementation of federal nutrition programs in schools was a much-needed step in that direction. Their guidelines try to help students, especially those from low-income families, to eat healthier.
Guidelines for students:
- Incorporating more fresh fruits, vegetables, and milk into breakfast and lunch programs.
- Offering free and reduced-priced meals to those eligible.
- Stepping into daycares and head start programs to address the nutritional needs of children sooner rather than later (FRAC).
Guidelines for adults, especially pregnant women and senior citizens:
- Programs like WIC and food assistance programs are offered to those in need of healthier foods. (Despite ongoing debates on who pays for this welfare.)
- Stricter guidelines on what can be purchased with those benefits.
- Access to healthcare to monitor potential issues (FRAC).
Conclusion to obesity in the United States essay
What we know is that there is an epidemic occurring in America. It is complex, not easily remedied, and is accompanied by serious ramifications. Obesity rates in America are higher than anywhere else in the world. No one is immune to it. It affects adults and children, young and old, as well as each and every ethnicity. The health problems that accompany obesity are severe, numerous, and life taking. This essay from Ultius highlights that is not only the responsibility of individuals, but communities, societies, and governments on all levels to treat, combat, and cure this ever-growing problem. It is a tough disease to deal with because there is no magic or simple cure. If we, as Americans, push our chairs back from the table, get some exercise, and utilize the plethora of resources available, we can alleviate this problem.
Hopefully reading this article may not only raise awareness of obesity, but maybe it could possibly help you become a better writer as well. We live in the land of plenty where we do not have to go far to satisfy our needs and wants. Somehow our health has managed to slip behind us like the road in our rearview mirrors. It is time to turn the car around and take back our health, the health of our children, and the health of our society. There is not any excuse to do otherwise. This is going to be a hard fight to battle, and it’s hard to be optimistic when your fat pants are too tight, but we can do it.
CDC. “Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Sept. 2015. Web. 05 June 2016.
CDC. “The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015. Web. 05 June 2016.
CDC. “Strategies to Prevent Obesity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015. Web. 05 June 2016.
DerSarkissian, Carol. “Obesity and Diseases: Weighing Your Risks.” WebMD. WebMD, 28 Apr. 2016. Web. 05 June 2016.
FRAC. “Role of the Federal Nutrition Programs in Combating Obesity « Food Research & Action Center.” Food Research Action Center Role of the Federal Nutrition Programs in Combating Obesity Comments. 2015. Web. 05 June 2016.
OECD. “Obesity Update.” OECD. June 2014. Web. 5 June 2016.
The President and Fellows of Harvard College. “Health Risks.” Obesity Prevention Source. 2012. Web. 05 June 2016.
The State of Obesity. “Adult Obesity in the United States” The State of Obesity. 2016. Web. 05 June 2016.
The State of Obesity. “Methodology” The State of Obesity. 2016. Web. 05 June 2016.
Wang, Y., and M. A. Beydoun. “The Obesity Epidemic in the United States Gender, Age, Socioeconomic, Racial/Ethnic, and Geographic Characteristics: A Systematic Review and Meta-Regression Analysis.” Epidemiologic Reviews 29.1 (2007): 6-28. Web. 5 June 2016.
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