Obesity in America has reached epidemic proportions. There has been a steady rise in the number of preventable deaths related to obesity issues. The health care costs for obesity related conditions have also shown a marked increase. The growth of the fast food industry has changed what, where and how much Americans eat. Americans now consumes more of their daily calorie intake from fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, and prepackages items from supermarkets than they do from fresh alternatives. Americans are also not getting enough consistent physical exercise. The obesity epidemic can be reversed.
Americans need to take responsibility for their food choices and exercise habits in order to stop the rise in and consequences of obesity. I conducted a brief survey about common perceptions of obesity in America and its impact on people’s general health. Five people, both male and females, ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s and from various walks of life responded to my survey. The majority of the respondents saw obesity as a problem that leads to serious health risks. Analyzing Obesity in America Introduction Obesity is an epidemic that affects people of all ages.
This epidemic is spreading rapidly in America. In the last four decades, obesity has grown to be one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in America. Obesity is rapidly becoming the norm instead of the exception in America. Even the Americans that the medical professionals do not describe as obese are being impacted economically by the epidemic. Americans must take action to curb this epidemic. Two steps that Americans can take immediately are to develop healthy eating habits and engage in exercise programs. It is not too late to reverse this epidemic. Survey Results
Five people participated in a survey inquiring about perceptions commonly held on obesity and its risk to a person’s general health. From the responses to the survey, I made a summary bar graph showing the number of affirmative responses there were to each question in the survey (see Figure 1). The people responding to the survey ranged in age from 24 to 69. Both males and females of varying weights were included in the survey. The respondents included a college student, an information technology expert, a farmer, administrative assistant and a retired business analyst.
All five of the respondents see obesity as a problem in America. All respondents also believe that eating habits contribute to obesity and that obesity can lead to heart attacks. Four of the respondents believe that exercise habits do affect obesity and that obesity can lead to high blood pressure. Three of the respondents see genetic make-up playing a role in obesity and obesity leading to diabetes. From this data, I concluded that people are aware of the relationship between obesity and its risk to general health. The majority of the respondents were aware of the connection between eating habits, exercise and obesity.
Research Research shows that the number of obese Americans has been on a steady increase since the 1970s. Harnack and French (2003) found that more than 64% of adult Americans are obese. This was an increase of 106% from 1976 to 2006. During that same period of time, adolescent obesity rose from five percent to 15% (Harnack & French, 2003). According to both Lumpkin (2005) and Koop (1999), obesity is affecting Americans both physically and economically. By 1999, obesity was the second leading cause of preventable death (Koop, 199).
Lumpkin (2005) cited type 2 diabetes due to insulin resistance, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke as four of the health conditions directly related to obesity. Obesity is also linked to sleep apnea, gallstones, osteoarthritis, and abnormal blood fats (Lumpkin, 2005). With the rise in obesity rate, there has also been a rise in the incidence of colon,breast, endometrial and gallbladder cancers (Lumpkin, 2005). The increased incidence of obesity has given rise to a $100billion annual bill for obesity-related conditions (Koop, 1999).
Research indicates that there are several factors that seem to contribute to obesity in America. Oz Garcia, a leading expert in nutritional medicine, stated that Americans seem to lack “dietary and food intelligence” (Bowden, 2003). Americans tend to eat not only when they are hungry but also eat when they are stressed, having fun, lonely, celebrating and for many other reasons. Dortch (1997) stated that Americans place a higher importance on snacking and they snack more frequently than people in any other society.
The foods Americans eat tend to be high in sugar, salt and fat (Pereira, Kartashov, Ebbeling & Van Horn, 2005). These foods are high in energy intake (calories) but often low in actual nutrition. The body tends to treat these foods as “empty calories” and store them as fat instead of being able to burn them as energy. Oz Garcia says this makes Americans “dietary zombies” (Bowden, 2003) while Dr. Shari Lieberman labels it as “completely unconscious eating” (Bowden, 2003). During the period of time when the significant rise in obesity was reported, there were reports of significant environmental changes in America.
Harnack and French (2003) found an increase of over 200% from 1997 to 2003 in the number of meals and snacks that Americans ate at fast-food restaurants. They found an increase of 150% in the number of meals eaten at all other types of restaurants. This equates to 12% of all energy intake in the US coming from fast food restaurants (Harnack & French, 2003). Along with eating out, Americans purchase significant amounts of convenience food such as prepackaged, instant gourmet foods in super-markets, convenience stores and carry-out restaurants (Pereira, Kartashov, Ebbeling & Van Horn, 2005).
Lumpkin (2005) reported that Americans “consumed 31% more packaged foods than fresh alternatives. ” Along with eating more meals away from home, Americans appear to be eating larger portions when they eat.. Super-sizing has become the optimum marketing teaching: Buy more, payless. Harnack and French (2003) reported the 660 calorie increase in the consumption of McDonald’s Supersized order of fries (610 calories) and Coca Cola classic (410 calories) as compared to their regular fry (210 calories) and small Coca Cola (150 calories). Bowden (2003) described the supersized meal as “carb loaded monstrosities with a hefty dose of trans fats.
” These supersized portions led to people consuming their recommended daily energyintake in one single meal (Pereira, Kartashov, Ebbeling & Van Horn, 2005). Research shows that there is a nation-wide movement to educate the American public about the link between obesity and health related issues. Koop (1999) stated that “almost seven out of 10 seriously overweight Americans believe that their health is not at risk. ” As Oz Garcia stated Americans need to “develop a certain kind of intelligence about food” (Bowden, 2003). The food industry has responded by putting labels that give the serving size and
nutritional value on all packaged foods (Harnack & French, 2003). Fast food restaurants have also been required to post the nutritional value of each food they serve. Lumpkin (2005) addresses the lack of physical exercise as being an environmental factor that appears to be linked to the obesity epidemic. Her research found that Americans on the average devote 2. 7 hours of their leisure time to watching television. They surf the web for another 55 minutes a day and use another 50 minutes of their leisure time to use other kinds “of entertaining mobile devices.
” These three sedentary activities consume five hours of the eight hours that most people typically have for activities other than sleeping, eating, working and personal grooming. Most physical fitness experts recommend spending at least 30 minutes every day doing some form sweat-producing, heart beat raising exercises for cardiovascular development and muscle-strengthening activities which work all the major muscle groups in the body (Lumpkin, 2005). Discussion There is an obesity epidemic in America as noted above in the research. Obesity is directly linked to numerous health risks.
These health risks are linked to preventable death and enormous health care costs. The fast food industry has contributed to the rise in obesity by the portion sizes they market and the types of food they sell. Americans appear to be eating more and exercising less. Americans need to develop healthy eating plans and exercise programs. Conclusion The obesity epidemic is here but it does not have to continue. Americans can do something to stop the spread of preventable deaths and increased health care costs. The obesity epidemic can be stopped; however it will take time, education and commitment.
Americans need to learn what constitutes recommended portion sizes and choose foods high in nutritional value. They need to devote at least 30 minutes a day to exercises that strengthen muscles and ones that provide cardiovascular development. When Americans take responsibility for their own eating and exercising habits, there will surely be a decrease in the number of preventable deaths from obesity related causes as well as a decrease in the cost of obesity related health care. References Bowden, J. (2003). Overweight in America: The experts weigh in. Total Health, 25(5), 28-32.
Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/210160309? accountid=40850 Dortch, S. (1997). America weighs in. American Demographics, 19(6), 38-43 . Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/200547281? accountid=40850 Harnack, L. , & French, S. (2003). Fattening up on fast food. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 103(10), 1296-97. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/21854344? accountid=40854 Koop, C. E. (1999). Knowledge, attitudes, and behavior: Overweight Americans dismiss personal health threat of obesity. Medical Letter on the CDC & FDA, 6-7.
Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/211421381? accountid=40850 Lumpkin, A. (2005). Weighed down by adult obesity. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 92(1), 25. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/pqdiscoveryhealth/docview/926220858/135CF1C60F854D7E032/1? accountid=40854 Pereira, M. A. , Kartashov, A. I. , Ebbeling, C. B. , & Van Horn, L. , et al. (2005). Fast-food habits, weight gain, and insulin resistance (the CARDIA study): 15 -year prospective analysis. Lancet, 365(9453), 36-42. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/pqdisvoeryhealth/docview/19899154/135CF2F0FD9F84A3/1? accountid=40854