The Journal of American Medical Association cites obesity as an increasingly challenging health issue in the recent times. The United States is listed second, just behind Mexico, in the world listing for obesity in large countries. The Journal reports a worrying increase in the cases of adult obesity from a 13% prevalence rate to 33.3% in 2008. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) reports that, as at the year 2010, over 35% of American adults and 17% of American children were obese. Obesity has many negative effects and it is estimated to be the contributing factor for a hundred thousand to four hundred thousand deaths in USA per year. Obesity has also increased the health care expenditures to an estimated $117 billion in direct and indirect expenditures in the USA thereby weighing heavily on the health budget. Such expenditure exceed cost associated with controlling drinking and smoking problems and is estimated at about 8% of the health care budget of the American budget.

Causes of obesity

There are many contributing factors to the obesity epidemic. Overall, obesity is mainly attributed to the eating lifestyles of people. According to the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), cultural, social, and environmental factors influence the eating habits of people. In the United States, the cultural habits relating to certain foods are the grates contributors to this problem. For instance, many people in this country feed on such American foods like hamburgers, doughnuts, and French fries, all of which are highly rich in carbohydrates. Such foods, usually referred to as junk food, are the common recipe for many since they are sweet, easy to make and readily available over the numerous fast food chains in America. For this reason, many children are exposed to these foods during their early lives and end up with some ‘addiction’ of sorts over these foods. Unfortunately, America has not yet adopted effective legislation to address this scourge and food companies end up using high amounts of sugar and fat in their food in the order to increase palatability and profitability while ignoring consumers’ health concerns. In addition, families are foregoing the traditional formal meal times where nutritious food could be served to snacking.

Social activities like partying, meetings, even funerals and other interactions expose people to a lot of eating where these junk foods are the main dishes. As well, there have been many sweet drinks as beverages available to the mass markets, which due to their high sugar contents predispose people to weight gain. America is also on a dangerous trend of inactivity as more people spend time indoors. The advent of technology bringing with it cellular devices such as mobile phones, video games, TVs, have increased the time people spend in the house. This time should instead be the time used for engaging in physical activities like swimming and playing in order to use up excess energy. Studies indicate that people, especially children, who spend most of their times indoors have high fat contents and are highly prone to obesity.

Effects of obesity

Obesity has many effects on the human body. For instance, research indicates that people who suffer from obesity are at risk of suffering from such lifestyle diseases as diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancers, liver and gall bladder disease, stroke, hypertension, sleep and respiratory problems and osteoarthritis. As well, female obese patients are at risk of experiencing gynecological problems such as abnormal menses and infertility. Being overly obese also implicate serious psychological problems. As such, a lot of obese people are usually ridiculed by their peers and families alike and often end up catching sneers and jeers from neighbors which might lead them to social exclusion and low self-esteem. There is the general thinking that obesity is caused by lack of discipline, and this might often spread to the work world where an obese person may be denied an opportunity simply because of his weight.

Solutions to obesity

The best solution to the problem of obesity is extensive public health awareness on obesity. People should be educated on the causes, dangers, and ways in which to prevent obesity. Ideally, people should be encouraged to more proactive and engage in physical activities by shunning indoor ones. As well, people should be discouraged from consuming junk food and foods that are rich in carbohydrates and fats. More so, the government should put in place legislation that regulates the sale of junk foods whereas encouraging healthy eating where people could be given incentives for eating at home, and taxed for buying junk food. Fast food companies should also take responsibility by avoiding deceptive advertising and adopting ethical food production techniques.

In conclusion, obesity has far-reaching effects on the economy and by extension, the productivity of the nation. Apart from draining the national resources, it has negative social and psychological effects on people. Preventive measures should therefore be put forth in order to prevent the spread of this chronic disease.



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