Epidemic of Obesity in America and Ways to Prevent It

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

Obesity has become a public health concern in the Western world especially the U.S because of the increased rate of its spread among children and adults. The American government has collected and kept precise records of the disease that have been used to analyze the dynamics nationally. A survey was carried out over a random telephone digit among the United States Citizens between the year 1991 and the year 1998 by the Department of Disease Control and Prevention and States Department. Through the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System a measured body mass was calculated to come up with weight in correspondence to height. The spread of obesity, defined as body mass being greater or equal to 30kg/m2 had increased by 12% in 1991, and in the year 1998 was at 17.9%. The prevalence of the disease remained constant in that range across most of the states in the US among both sexes, smokers and non-smokers and all age groups.

Despite the outcome of the research, a narrowed down observation also indicated that the age group of between 18 and 29-year olds had the highest level of increased obesity spread ranging from 7.1% to 12.1% and those with a primary college education had an increase of between 10.6% to 17.8%. Based on the increased proliferation of the ethnic communities in the US, the Hispanic Americans had the highest percentage increase at 11.6 percent to 20.8 percent.

The magnitude of the rise in the spread of this health condition varied with regions and the region with the highest range was the mid-Atlantic that experienced an increase from 31.9% to 67.2%. Considering the states, Georgia had the most top increased spread. Obesity has continued to be a pandemic in the United States, and it has continued to spread over the years. However, the federal government has come up with health measures that will see the public maintain the minimum weight since it has become an epidemic.


Obesity is a health disorder typified by excessive body fat, which causes health complications. A person is obese whenever the body mass index passes the 30 kg/m2 mark. Obesity has been a serious health problem in recent decades in the United States and Canada. It leads to illnesses such as coronary heart disease, which quickly causes death. Although many countries have their fair share of obesity cases comparably, the disease’s incidents in the United States remain the highest in the world. Latest statistics from the US Department of Health and Human Services outline that approximately one-third (36.5%) of American adults above 20 years and 17% of persons between 2 and 19 years are obese. This paper seeks to analyze the obesity epidemic in the world with a focus on the United States where the disease substantially increased among the citizens over the past 30 years. It will employ the use of qualitative analysis to establish if the extending person-to-person spread of the disease is a possible factor that has contributed to the obesity pandemic.

Obesity is the most significant health concern in America especially the northern region with more than 50% of the population at risk of having obesity. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (2014), about 3 out of 5 Americans or Canadians were overweight or obese with nearly a quarter of all American kids likely to become obese in adulthood. Additionally, as per the World Health Organisation (2018), more than one billion people across the world are overweight with most likely to become obese. However, obesity remains at an all-time high in America with women accounting for 41.1% of the obesity statistics compared to 37.9% for men. In 1962, the obesity rate in the U.S was at 23% but progressively increased to more than 57.6% in 2013. Given recent statistics, more than three-fourths of the American population will be obese or overweight by 2020 according to a prediction by the health departments across the United States.

Cracking down to the cause of the disease, a complex interaction of human behavior, genetics, and the environment plays a vital role in the development of obesity. Figures from the US Department of Health and Human Services (2014) outline that television watching, video games playing, proxy measures of physical laziness; closely parallel the escalating trends in obesity in the United States. Using data from the US Department of Health and Human Services in the year (2014), Kahan and Kushner (2017) confirmed that the frequency of obesity rose by 2% for every extra hour of television watched.

Evidence also outlines that the comparative valuing and availability of different kinds of food materials influence the level of food intake and the erected milieu like native gardens shapes the level of exercises in the community (Kahan, & Kushner, 2017). The outcome of these causes of obesity not only underscore the influence of the environment on obesity but also imply that the policies created by the government concerning the convenience of high-caloric-density foods and the built environment might lead to the obesity scourge.

The effects of the causes mentioned above of obesity in America is the rising cases of people contracting chronic illnesses such as stroke, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (2014), approximately 25% of adults in America are obese with a similar percentage of youngsters at risk of being overweight. On their part, Kahan and Kushner (2017) posit that fast food outlets are responsible for the increasing incidents of obesity in society.

They assert that the overabundance of fast food chains in America has forced most people to consume vast amounts of unhealthy foods. For instance, the consumption of red meat and fatty foods links with weight gain in women and men. According to the World Health Organisation (2018), about a third of kids aged between 4 and 19 years consume fast food each day in the US. The consumption of French fries, burgers, sodas, and doughnuts negatively affects the genes that control weight and increases the genetic susceptibility of an individual to gain weight. Weight gain, in turn, leads to obesity.

Apart from the causes above, genetic susceptibility to obesity has also been a causative agent of obesity. Scientists argue that single gene mutations cause rare types of monogenic obesity. The argument is backed by evidence that single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) might play vital roles in the prevalence of obesity. Among adults and adolescents, a sedentary lifestyle is also a contributory factor to obesity. Lack of regular physical activity coupled with excessive TV watching and video games has resulted in weight gain and overweight among most Americans (Yisahak, Beagley, Hambleton, & Narayan, 2014). As many Americans lead more sedentary lifestyles the rates of obesity rise; inactivity lessens high-density lipoprotein while increasing unhealthy triglycerides. Kahan and Kushner (2017) argue that approximately 60% of American adults do not exercise as required with about a quarter of them not active at all. This lifestyle puts Americans at a higher risk of becoming obese.

In light of these facts, it is right to say that obesity is the leading cause of high blood pressure and heart diseases, and is also responsible for numerous deaths in America. Yisahak, Beagley, Hambleton, and Narayan (2014), terms obesity as the causative agent of between 100,000 and 400,000 deaths in the United States every year and has amplified healthcare expenses, costing the society an estimated $147 billion in direct and indirect costs. Admittedly, one obese American incurs approximately $1,429 in health expenses yearly, and the figure is anticipated to rise by $1.24 billion each year until 2030.

The incidence rates of overweight in children, as well as obesity incidence in the United States, has also been gradually increasing (Koplan, Liverman, & Kraak, 2005). Public health specialists hold that a host of compelling reasons beyond the control of any individual are the principal causes of childhood obesity. Therefore, it is prudent that from a policy perspective, consideration of a broad strategy of devising and enforcing effective health policies geared towards changing environments that are likely to facilitate the occurrence of childhood obesity is necessary. In that respect, various forms of practices and procedures were formulated as parts of the solution to the increasing problem of childhood obesity.

Overall, diabetes expenses surpass health care costs linked to smoking and represent about 6 to 12 percent of the national health care expenditures in the United States (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2014). Besides, obesity links with high risks of various chronic illnesses such as stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. It also connects to numerous digestive disorders like gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and complications such as oesophageal adenocarcinoma, erosive esophagitis, and Barrett’s esophagus as well as liver disease, cancer, and colorectal polyps. Kahan and Kushner (2017) estimated the possibility of death in a prospective cohort of more than 500,000 American women and men after ten years of follow up. The Kahan and Kushner finding was also that among patients who had never smoked, the likelihood of death is amplified by 20% to 40% in overweight persons and two or threefold in obese persons when compared to normal-weight individuals.

Likewise in children, the psychosocial effects of childhood obesity result in overall reduced quality of life. It negatively affects self-esteem, causes behavioral and learning problems, and depression (Koplan, Liverman, & Kraak, 2005). Additionally, obese and overweight children are more vulnerable to social exclusion, teasing, bullying as well as many more manifestations of weight-related stigma. Nearly 80% of these overweight children grow up to be overweight and obese adults (Koplan, Liverman, & Kraak, 2005).

The finding implies that these individuals spend the whole of their lives dealing with this matter together with its consequences. The causes of this epidemic of childhood obesity have been identified to be multifactorial. However, the most reductive and the most straightforward explanation provided is the energy gap explanation (Koplan, Liverman, & Kraak, 2005). It means an ever-increasing state of imbalance between energy expenditure and excess intake of energy.

The critical solution for obesity is physical exercise and dieting. Diet programs often result in significant weight loss over a short time; however, sustaining the weight loss is very difficult and frequently requires doing exercise and making a low food energy diet a permanent component of a person’s lifestyle. Over the short term, diets consisting of low carbohydrate seem more effective than those with low fat in weight loss. However, in the long run, all forms of low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets are equally advantageous (World Health Organisation, 2018). A 2014 study by Yisahak, Beagley, Hambleton, and Narayan realized that diabetes and heart diseases linked with various diets seem analogous.

Some state, organizational, federal and local policies and strategies have been suggested over the past years to look into environmental changes aimed at combating childhood obesity. The systems divided into physical education and activity, school nutrition and education, advertising to children, as well as other general strategies that can impact on adults and children (Veugelers, & Fitzgerald, 2005). First, schools are perfect environments for making changes, which will assist children in forming lifelong and health-giving habits. In the recent past, however, most schools in the United States have supplied high calorie and nutrient-poor food beverages to the children (Veugelers, & Fitzgerald, 2005).

Initially, milk obtained from the cafeteria and drinking water drawn from the fountain were the only beverages availed to students in school in the United States. Because of diminishing resources, many administrators resorted to new cost-effective methods of satisfying the children’s needs. Seeking branding and market opportunities, beverage and food industries came in to offer these alternative services by supplying schools with apparently lucrative contracts. They offered sugar-sweetened beverages, candy and salty snacks to these children (Veugelers, & Fitzgerald, 2005). These types of food only increase the risk of having childhood obesity.

The adoption of Mediterranean diets by the obese might also help reduce the risks of heart disease. Foods comprising low intakes of sugary drink are as healthy and effective in minimizing weight loss among obese patients. Nonetheless, the success and efficiency rates of long-term weight loss diets in combination with lifestyle changes are high, ranging between 2 and 20% (Kahan & Kushner, 2017). That said, lifestyle and dietary changes are, however, efficient in reducing excessive weight gain among pregnant women while improving outcomes for both the child and mother. Moreover, comprehensive behavioral counseling might also help obese persons at risk of developing heart disease or other complications.

Capping it up is supplements which can also be used in mitigating obesity among affected individuals. Five medications have evidence for long-term use: naltrexone/bupropion, orlistat, phentermine/topiramate, liraglutide, and lorcaserin. Kahan and Kushner (2017) contend that these supplements result in weight loss after one year of use with loss ranging from 3kgs to 6.7kgs. Orlistat, naltrexone/bupropion, and liraglutide are accessible in both North America and Europe while phentermine/topiramate and lorcaserin are obtainable only in the United States (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).

The latter two drugs were rejected by European regulatory bodies owing to their propensity to cause heart valve issues (lorcaserin) and general blood vessel and heart issues (phentermine/topiramate). On the other hand, the use of Orlistat is linked with elevated rates of gastrointestinal problems and discomforts as well as harmful effects on the kidneys. However, there exists no evidence on how the medications affect long-term consequences of obesity like death or cardiovascular disease.

Cite this paper

Epidemic of Obesity in America and Ways to Prevent It. (2021, Feb 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/epidemic-of-obesity-in-america-and-ways-to-prevent-it/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out