Obesity is the word used to describe a medical condition associated with excessive accumulation of body fat to the extent of having adverse effects on health. This can lead to increased health problems and reduced life expectancy. Body Mass Index is used to determine whether one is obese. BMI compares weight and height and is measured in kg/m2. A person with a BMI of 25-30kg/m2 is considered to be pre-obese, and those with a BMI greater than 30kg/m2 are considered to be obese. The following piece of work will reflect on the causes, effect and prevention strategies of obesity in the United States.
In the USA, in recent decades, it has been increasingly reported as a serious health issue. Its prevalence is spread in all age groups; children, teens and adults. The data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicate that 71% of adults are either overweight or obese. 27.6 percent of men and 33.2 of women are obese (Blue, 2008). While many people are aware of obesity, few understand the factors that cause them. In the United States, Obesity is caused by a number of factors which include dietary, sedentary lifestyle, genetic factors, sexual orientation, social determinants, and endocrine disruptors.
It is evident that dietary factors contribute to obesity. A lot of foods are being consumed in the USA have high levels of fat content, which undermine the mechanisms that regulate energy balance. People who consume foods that have high levels of sugars and fat are more likely to become obese compared to those who consume smaller amounts of sugars and fats. Obesity can be controlled by taking a balanced diet. In specific, taking a diet containing low carbohydrates, and reducing in intake of foods with high fats, and hypo caloric food reduces ones risk of becoming obese. (Medeiros-Neto 2003)
Secondly, sedentary lifestyle is one of the factors that contribute to obesity in the United States. Sedentary lifestyle has been associated by a decline in physical activities, which contributes to accumulation of fats in the body, making it more difficult to be physically active. With the sedentary lifestyle in the US, there is increased obsessive television watching, video games, use of lifts and escalators and energy-sparing domestic devices which make people not to engage in full physical exercises. In the United States, there is increased availability of food and changes in food preparation, which are additional factors that contribute to overeating among Americans, leading to obesity. Eating foods high in calories and low in nutrients is common among the diet of Americans. They, therefore, increase energy consumption, which is a concurrent decrease in energy expenditure. Thus, this provides evidence that reduced physical activity, and subsequence decrease in energy expenditure is a potentially significant contributor to obesity ( Boughton, & Stefanek 2010)
Thirdly, genetic factors result in obesity. Gene variation in how people respond to the same environment conditions suggests that genes play a role in contributing to obesity. Genes may influence individual propensity for obesity by poor regulation of appetite or tendency to overeat and the capacity to preferentially store body fat. The explanation for the rapid increase in obesity, in the US, is the thrifty gene, where the same genes that made it easier for ancestors to survive occasional lack of food are now being challenged by the environments in which food is always plentiful. This is the reason why obesity continues from one generation to the next. Since genes are inherited, use of family history is straight forward for clinicians to reduce the risk of obesity among the USA citizens (Munsch & Beglinger).
Fourthly, obesity has been proposed to be another health effect of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in America. Endocrine disruptors include a variety of substances, natural or synthetic environmental chemicals that could disrupt or change normal endocrine functions. These chemicals, when consumed, may lead to the disruption of enzymes functioning in the body, ultimately leading to obesity. Men on average have more muscles than women; this is because men's muscles usually burn more calories than all other types of tissue. Men use more calories than women, even at rest. Therefore, with the same calorie intake, women are more likely to gain weight than men. Men try to change their bodies by increasing their levels of exercise and fitness, by body-building practices on muscle size while women do not engage in a lot of exercises. This helps to build up fat in the body because they are not broken down thus causing obesity. This therefore, indicates the reason why more women in the US are obese than men.
In the US, there are the social factors in the society that lead to obesity. These are social class, smoking habits and the number of children a person has This is because having dependent children eventually decreases physical activities among the Western parents. Smoking has a significant effect on an individual's life since it affects an individual's appetite, leading to obesity. Women and men of high social class in the USA are more prone to obesity because of their lifestyle, the food they consume and their way of life. In America, the whites are the most people who are obese compared to blacks. This is because many blacks who live in the US belong to the middle class (Boughton, & Stefanek, 2010).
In the US, the rapid increase in obesity cases has led to a corresponding increase in healthcare costs. According to Keller (2008), the number of days that obese people spend in hospital increases by 27 to74 percent and the number of times they consult a physician increases by 14 to 25 percent more than that of similar normal-weight individuals. In terms of expenditure, obese persons incur higher costs of treatment than the normal-weight individuals. Furthermore, it is estimated that three hundred thousand Americans die annually from a sedentary lifestyle and obesity through an increased risk of stroke, high-blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes. Obesity has also led to direct costs associated with diagnostic, preventive and treatment services offered in relation to weight. Some of the indirect costs incurred are absenteeism and loss of earnings due to premature death.
Obesity is can be prevented by educating people on healthy eating habits and emphasizing the need of doing physical exercises. Today most people in the states live in "built environments", mostly urban, and this means that they are inclined by this environment to live a sedentary life. To prevent obesity, they should accomplish methods of promoting anti-obesity behaviors by developing ways to burn calories when doing their daily work, for example, taking stairs instead of using the elevator.
In the US, recent studies have indicated that the rise in obesity is slowing. This decline is attributed to the saturation of health-oriented media and the efforts the government has put to curb the rise. Some of the efforts made to curb the rise in obesity, in the US, are banning the sale of junk food in many district schools, prohibiting soda sales in schools and ban on selling high- calorie drinks in high schools (Edelstein 2008). In conclusion, obesity is a critical health issue that is widely spread in the US. It has had adverse effects on the Americans' health and their economy and therefore it needs to be seriously addressed. However, the US government has put substantial efforts to help reduce it, but though most of the measures are at the implementation stage, it is taking the right direction. American people are also much aware about it, and most of them are trying their best to prevent it.