The famous comedian, writer, and actress Jo Brand once said: “I’m not a flag waver for obesity. It’s not healthy, and you have a crap life because there is such a downer on it” (Obesity Quotes. 2011-2019). Yes, indeed, obesity has many medical, social, psychological and economic consequences for individuals and society. Obesity has become a public health crisis in the United States. Nationally representative surveys show that the number of obese people in America has been steadily increasing over the past three decades.
Following obesity, many concomitant diseases develop, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), hypertension, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and malignant neoplasms. All these factors lead to an increase in mortality among obese people. The increase in obesity and overweight in adults is faster than in children, and in women – in men. If these trends continue, by 2030, 86.3% of adults will be overweight or obese. Black women (96.9%) and Mexican-American men (91.1%) will suffer the most. By 2048, all American adults will be overweight or obese, while black women will achieve this condition by 2034. In children, the prevalence of overweight will almost double by 2030 (Wang, Beydoun…2008, p.2323).
In addition to morbidity and longevity, obesity is a serious burden for any healthcare system. It is estimated that medical costs of obesity are 30% higher than those of normal weight, and total health costs associated with obesity will double every ten years. The association between obesity and income or educational level is complex and differs by sex and race/ethnicity. Overall, men and women with college degrees had lower obesity prevalence compared with those with less education (Adult Obesity Facts, 2018). There are significant differences between population groups.
Obesity in America can be effectively prevented or managed with lifestyle changes that will reduce or eliminate the need for drug therapy. These lifestyle changes include the loss of weight, healthy eating, and exercise.
To understand the true extent of the obesity epidemic in America, you first need to determine what “overweight” is. Doctors and nutritionists classify people as underweight, healthy or normal, overweight or obese. These different classifications are determined by a body mass index (BMI) or a measure of body fat mass depending on a person’s height and weight. To get a general idea, this diagram from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) roughly shows what this means for a person 5’9 ‘tall.
In the academic journal article it states “Obesity is the most prevalent chronic disease in the United States and throughout the world, but there is considerable variation in the prevalence of obesity among racial/ethnic groups. Body mass index (BMI; calculated as the weight in kilograms divided by the height in meters squared) has been the standard measure for defining obesity because it is quick, inexpensive, and noninvasive, and has some correlation to metabolic disease prevalence. The BMI cutoffs differ in Asian Americans who have a higher risk of metabolic disease at lower BMI values. As such, the BMI criteria for Asian Americans have been adjusted to lower values for all weight classes” (Stanford, Lee, Hur, 2019, p.1).
Serving larger portions, food advertising everywhere, transport investments to support road trips only, more and cheaper foods high in fat and sugar, soft drinks in schools, online entertainment and fast food. Changes in these and other factors are blamed on the obesity epidemic in the United States and around the world. Although biologically based sweet and fat preferences are unlikely to have changed, there is currently a greater variety of these preferred foods. There are more places to get them; they are advertised more widely; and they are cheaper and come in large sizes.
Our ancestors received most of their physical activity during work, housework and walking, but today these mobility requirements are significantly reduced thanks to automation and computers at work, devices for saving labor at home. More and more people eat in restaurants and spend less time cooking at home. New York’s restaurant menu labeling rules currently apply require calories to be displayed in some restaurants. Most restaurants provide very little information about the calorie content of dishes, although the recent adoption of menu labeling laws makes it possible to evaluate these policies.
In the journal article, “Reciprocal effects of exercise and nutrition treatment-induced weight loss with improved body image and physical self-concept” found in EBSCO Academic Search Premier, it states “Almost universally, behavioral weight-loss interventions focus on improving eating and increasing physical activity” (Annesi, Porter, 2015, p.18). The author specializes in nutrition, psychiatry/psychology, and has recorded live results of weight loss changes tested by experts. Women (42 years) with morbid obesity (Mean BMI D 45.1 kg/m2) participated in a 6-month, behaviorally based physical activity and nutrition treatment. Significant within-group improvements in weight-loss behaviors (physical activity and eating), weight, body satisfaction, physical self-concept, and depression were found. After controlling for age, mediation analyses indicated that, as a result of the treatment, weight loss was both an outcome and mediator of improvements in body-areas satisfaction and physical self-concept (reciprocal effects), but not depression.
Nutrition is important for everyone. When combined with being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight, eating well is an excellent way to help our body stay strong and healthy. A healthy diet contains a variety of foods from the following food groups: 1) fruits and vegetables; 2) whole grains; 3) meat and beans; 4) milk and dairy; 5) fats and oils. The American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research recommend eating 5 or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day to ensure that your cancer risk is as low as it can be.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends about 3 cups of vegetables per day and 2 cups of fruit per day for women (for men the recommendations are 4 cups of vegetables and 2.5 cups of fruit). USDA guidelines recommend 3 to 4 ounces or more of whole grains per day for women (3 to 5 ounces for men). Whole grains still have the bran and the germ (the core of the grain kernel) attached and have more fiber, minerals, and vitamins than refined grains. The refining process removes the bran and germ from the grain.
You can’t tell if a food is made from whole grain by looking at its color — you have to read the label. The ingredients should say ‘whole’ or ‘whole grain’ before the grain’s name, ‘whole grain wheat,’ for example. Brown rice, bulgur, oatmeal, and barley are examples of whole grains that are eaten on their own. Meat is a good source of the protein and fatty acids you need for energy and health. Red meat also contains iron, which is especially important for women. USDA guidelines recommend eating 7 ounces of protein foods per day. If you do eat meat, poultry, or fish, try to choose lean cuts and opt for chicken or fish most of the time. If you don’t eat meat, you may need to add nuts, seeds, beans, or soy products to your diet to ensure that you’re getting enough protein and iron. The USDA recommends that you eat 3 cup equivalents fat-free or low-fat versions of dairy foods every day.
The USDA guidelines recommend consuming about 30 grams of fat per day. The guidelines also recommend that you get no more than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fat. There are three main types of fats: saturated fats are found in animal products such as whole milk, cheese, ice cream, fatty meats, and some vegetable oils, such as palm and coconut oils. Saturated fat also includes trans fat, found in shortening, stick (or hard) margarine, cookies, crackers, snack foods, fried foods, doughnuts, pastries, baked goods, and other processed foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils; monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fats are found in fish and many foods from plants such as vegetables, nuts, and grains, as well as oils made from these nuts and grains (canola, corn, soybean).
In the e-book, “The obesity reality: A comprehensive approach to a growing problem” found in EBSCO eBook Collection, it states “Regular exercise is a must for healthy operation of your body systems and parts. Mild activity helps maintain the size, tone, and shape of muscles, whereas laborious exercise strengthen them significantly. Exercise makes the joints more flexible and improves your scope of movement” (Ali, 2012, p. 219). The author named 4 reasons for exercise: strengthened immune system; happiness, stress, and energy; lower cholesterol; a stronger mind. It was written by a medical doctor who provides expert data useful for informing choices regarding your wellness. Lack of exercise is also a major culprit in the obesity epidemic.
It’s been decades since most Americans worked in fields and on factory floors, a far greater majority of us are sitting throughout our workday. This means less exercise each day. According to one study, only 20% of today’s jobs require at least moderate physical activity, as opposed to 50% of jobs in 1960. Other research suggests Americans burn 120 to 140 fewer calories a day than they did 50 years ago. Add this to the higher amount of calories we are packing in, and we get a perfect recipe for weight gain. Americans walk less than people in any other industrialized country, preferring to sit in cars to get around.
The website article, “Lack of Exercise, not diet, linked to rise in obesity, Stanford research” was found in https://med.stanford.edu. It states, “Although we cannot draw conclusions about cause and effect from our study, our findings support the notion that exercise and physical activity are important determinants of the trends in obesity” (Bach, 2014, para. 3). Based upon the CRAAP test criteria, this source is reliable and trustworthy just like the other sources. The author, Becky Bach, is a science-writing intern for the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs, at Stanford University. An examination of national health survey results suggests that inactivity, rather than higher calorie intake, could be driving the surge in obesity.
The future of the country is children. Whether they will be healthy, or with obesity, which is accompanied by a whole range of diseases – it depends on the efforts of our society. Of course, children copy the behavior patterns of their parents: eat junk food, move a little, sit for a long time near computers. Therefore, the authors of the article “Prevention of Obesity in Early Childhood: What Are the Next Steps?” are absolutely right in saying that “Programs that are framed in a family systems approach and incorporate skills training, such as family culinary nutrition classes, could provide activities and intervention targets that address obesity prevention and weight maintenance in both parents and children” (Hoelcher, Sharma, Byrd-Williams, 2018, p. 1586).
This research work says that many families do not receive timely help in the form of advice on how to eat, do not understand how obesity occurs, how important physical activity and family habits are for a small citizens. Need family attendance and activities for parents. In schools and early care need to cultivate an environment that can provide health for parents and children, communication between teachers and parents, and the establishment of standards for diet and physical activity.
Obesity in America has become a real epidemic that is affecting an increasing number of people. Moreover, the trend does not have the slightest prerequisites for a slowdown. If these trends continue, by 2030, 86.3% of adults will be overweight or obese. Obese people have many concomitant diseases and do not live long. The cost of medical care for people will grow at a steady pace and will put a heavy burden on the state budget. Decisive action is needed to halt the growth of obesity and diabetes, creative initiatives are needed to actually impact environmental changes.
This will require close and sustained cooperation between the public and private sectors, educators, food producers, urban planners, transport experts, parents and the general public. The national health system must be prepared to counter the growing burden of health consequences associated with obesity by providing more appropriate training for health workers and health workers and developing the necessary infrastructure. It is necessary to conduct among the population a wide educational work on proper nutrition, to explain to people, especially young people, the benefits of physical exercise for health. Obesity in America can be effectively prevented or eliminated through lifestyle changes that reduce or eliminate the need for drug therapy. These lifestyle changes include weight loss, healthy eating, and exercise.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Obesity
- NCBI – Obesity: Overview of an Epidemic
- World Health Organization (WHO) – Obesity
- Medical News Today – Obesity: Causes, Complications, and Treatments
- PubMed – The epidemiology of obesity: a big picture
- ProCon.org – Should obesity be considered a disease?
- De Gruyter – Theories of Obesity