Obesity in America
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out obesity in the United States as a national health problem being the second leading cause of mortality after smoking. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2011 and the CDC in 2012, over 34% of adults in America aged between 20 and 74 are obese and more than 63% are overweight (including those who are classified as obese). The rates of being obese or overweight are not evenly distributed and vary according to gender, race, and ethnicity. Black Americans lead by having 72% of adults with obesity followed closely by American Indians with a 70% margin. Hispanics come third with 69%, whites follow with 62% and lastly Asian/Pacific Islanders close the statistics with 41% of overweight or obese adults. The rate of obesity in American children has intensified and become twice what it was in the late 1970s. Children who are much bigger than their peers at times experience rejection and social ostracism. Besides this, they may suffer serious health effects as a result of being obese.
Obesity is a disease associated with the accumulation of weight in the body. It is a very dangerous disease that results to various health implications such as joints and other bone diseases, heart conditions as well as diabetes. It poses a great number of risks for both children and adults. It is a condition caused by some risk factors whereby some can be changed while others cannot be changes. Risk factors such as an individual’s environment, eating habits and lifestyle are factors that can be changed while other risk factors such as genetic makeup, sex, race, and ethnicity are difficult to change (Overweight and Obesity, 2017).
The American society has been greatly affected by the epidemic of obesity, and it is a factor that is greatly affecting the health of both children and adults in the country. Some of the main factors that lead to the high rates of the disease include lifestyle, affluence and excessive marketing of fast foods. Fast foods have majorly in the creation of the obesity epidemic. They are easily available, cheap and highly accessible. The other aspect of fast food is associated with the fact that companies that manufacture them have excessively marketed them in the country and thus eating of fast food in America have become more preferred than other forms of food. Socioeconomic factors also play in the increased preference to fast food over other healthy meals. Healthy eating is sometimes considered expensive and hard to access because of the over-reliance on fast foods for many years (Understanding the American Obesity Epidemic, 2017).
One of the biggest contributing factors of obesity in both children as well as adults is unhealthy lifestyles and poor eating habits. Poor eating habits associated with feeding on fast foods and other foods with unhealthy fat coupled with the lack of physical activities leads to obesity. Other unhealthy habits include inadequate sleep, and having a lot of stress are all factors that contribute to obesity. Unhealthy eating is usually associated with the consumption of more calories that the body uses up, and this unbalance leads to accumulation in various parts of the body. It involves eating food with too much sugar as well as with saturated fats that are hard to breakdown and therefore, simply accumulate in the body (Understanding the American Obesity Epidemic, 2017).
The above factors are the most common contributing factors to obesity and are direct and have negative implications on people’s health. However, these are risk factors that can be changed and the disease cured. One of the important preventive and control measure over the disease is the adoption of a healthy lifestyle associated mostly with healthy eating. This involves the eating of vegetables, fruits, and food with healthy fats and low calories. Healthy eating is a very important measure towards reducing unhealthy weight gain. This is because healthy food elicits the brain to break down more unhealthy fats in the body. The other preventive measure is associated with physical activities in the form of exercises. Exercises are important because they work the body and help it break down and burn excessive fats in the body. Coupled with healthy eating, physical activity can bring about great results regarding general health and weight. These are two preventive measures associated with a healthy lifestyle and can be very effective in preventing and controlling obesity. Socioeconomic factors also play a role in the epidemic of obesity in the society. The socio-economic class associated with income greatly affects people’s access to healthy food, and most of them rely on highly refined and fatty food for nutrition (Overweight and Obesity, 2017).
America considers obesity as an epidemic affecting millions of its citizens. Being obese or overweight is not much of a cosmetic problem but a life-threatening condition that puts one at a greater risk of acquiring serious health concerns. Some of the typical health complications in children, teen and adults that are related to obesity include; High blood pressure, Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), Abnormal blood fats, Type 2 Diabetes, Stroke, Sleep Apnea, Cancer, Gallstones, Metabolic syndrome, Osteoarthritis, Reproductive problems and, Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome (OHS).
There are dozens of factors that contribute to obesity among children and adults in American communities. These factors include; environmental, biological, social or economic factors. Obesity is not exclusively as a result of overconsumption of food as many would presume but factors including lack of access to recreational spaces and the high cost of healthy meals also play a significant role in understanding why millions of Americans, particularly the poor struggle with obesity. The problems of malnutrition and hunger might bring into the picture the scenes of starvation in developing countries manifested by emaciated people but in the United States, poor access to nutritious foods is more likely to be manifested by obesity. This explains why some of America’s poorest states have the highest obesity rates. According to CDC, 33.4% of adults in Louisiana are obese, Mississippi 34.9% while in Kentucky, obese or overweight adults make up 30.4% of the population. Individual factors like genes, appetite, bone structure and personal choices have a minor influence on obesity while it’s widely attributed to socioeconomic conditions and the social environment since the poor are more likely to consume less nutritious food as it’s cheaper to afford.
When we look at the issue from a sociological perspective, we consider the relationship between personal trouble and the public issue of overweight and obesity. This means if one individual or a handful in a community are overweight or obese that may be a personal trouble that results from illnesses, eating habits, genetics or any other factor. However, when more than a third of the American population is obese with some communities forming the majority, it becomes a public issue that might not be explained by focusing on individual cases but rather develops need to seek out its sociological roots.
Despite the threat, preventative measures can be taken to combat obesity and the diseases that come along with it. First, It’s crucial to exercise eating a nutritious diet and keep away from junk and fast foods. The healthy traditional meals can substitute the expensive ones that the poor cannot afford. Also, living a healthy lifestyle by regularly exercising will keep you away from the doctor and ensure your immune system is strong, and your body is admirable as well as fit.
1. López-Olmedo, N., Jiménez-Aguilar, A., Morales-Ruan, M., Hernández-Ávila, M., Shamah-Levy, T., & Rivera-Dommarco, J. (2017). Consumption of foods and beverages in elementary schools: Results of the implementation of the general guidelines for foods and beverages sales in elementary schools in Mexico, stages II and III. elsevier. Retrieved 7 March 2018, from http://www.elsevier.com/locate/evalprogplan
Obesity in children is a matter of great concern in Latin America among other areas in the world. One of the most effective yet less costly solutions suggested by World Health Organization (WHO) was for the communities to practice healthy eating habits and physical activities in family and school settings. For this reason, stakeholders in Mexico including the Mexican government has taken action to address the issue. The Mexican government came up with general guidelines for distributing foods and beverages in elementary schools. Research was then conducted with an aim to assess the consumption of food during school hours in 565 elementary school students. The study design involved a cross-sectional descriptive study having national representatives. It also had a sophisticated design involving a two-stage process by clusters. Data collection methodology involved the use of direct observation. The results indicated that there are significant differences in energy intake according to the origin of food in both stages (II and III). Food origins considered were; food purchased at school, food brought from home, and both. The school category was discovered to have the lowest macronutrients and energy yet complied with guideline recommendations while the category of both had higher consumption and less adherence to guidelines recommendations. The study suggests that there’s need for periodic evaluations to assess fulfillment with the guidelines. Few methodological limitations to the study affect the interpretation of results.
2. Creighton, M., Goldman, N., Pebley, A., & Chung, C. (2012). Durational and generational differences in Mexican immigrant obesity: Is acculturation the explanation?. Social Science And Medicine, 300-310. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.03.013
Latino immigrants in the United States are said to be just as healthy as non-Hispanic whites or even better. However, the longer they stay in the United States, the poorer their health and that of the next generation becomes due to changes in behaviors including; substance abuse, nutrition, smoking, and exercise. A longer duration is also associated with obesity among other health concerns. The study involved the use of the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey to look into the relationship between Mexican immigrant acculturation, exercise, obesity, and diet. Generations of immigrants, i.e., 2nd and 3rd generation as well as blacks, Mexicans, and whites are also considered. A multilevel random-intercept logistic model was deployed when conducting this study. Results indicate that linguistic acculturation for Hispanics increases monotonically across generations compared to new arrivals. Also, 3rd generation whites and Mexicans are not different when socioeconomic status is held constant. 2nd and 3rd generation Mexicans are more likely to have ethnically diverse friends than recent immigrants. Also, 3rd generation whites as well as 2nd and 3rd generation Mexicans engage in vigorous leisure-time exercise compared to previous immigrants. The conclusion is that the process of acculturation, away from traditional healthy habits may not necessarily explain variations in obesity by duration.
3. Davis, R., Cole, S., Blake, C., McKenney-Shubert, S., & Peterson, K. (2016). Eat, play, view, sleep: Exploring Mexican American mothers' perceptions of decision making for four behaviors associated with childhood obesity risk. www.elsevier.com/locate/appet. Retrieved 7 March 2018, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.02.158
Obesity and overweight is an issue of major concern among Mexican American children between the age of 2 and 5. The high rates indicate an ethnic disparity between non-Latino Whites and Mexican Americans that exist throughout their lifetime. The study was aimed at understanding who makes decisions including sleeping, eating, screen time, and outdoor play behaviors of preschool Mexican American children. The methodology involved interviewing forty Mexican American mothers with children between ages 3 and 4 years. The results indicated that participants deemed themselves as the decision makers for all the behaviors except for food decisions that had to be made in collaboration with the child and television decisions which were influenced by fathers. The study concludes that mothers may be the best audience for obesity prevention campaigns for preschool-aged Mexican American children. There is also need for health agencies to heighten awareness to Mexican American mothers over control of their children’s behavior.
Overweight and Obesity. (n.d.). Retrieved 2017, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/risks
Understanding the American Obesity Epidemic. (n.d.). Retrieved 2017, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/WeightManagement/Obesity/Understanding-the-American-Obesity-Epidemic_UCM_461650_Article.jsp#.WTKfYJKGPMx
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