OBESITY AND OVERWEIGHT IN USA
OBESITYAND OVERWEIGHT IN USA
Theissue of obesity is a national pandemic in the United States. Thechanging lifestyle, the shift from production to service industry andthe development of technology is one of the main reasons why obesityhas continued to haunt the U.S. The increasing economic empowermentand a general shift from a traditional family lifestyle exaggeratethe problem. The wide knowledge on obesity and overweight has notdone much in addressing this issue though. For example, people mayknow the causes of obesity such as consumption of highly processedfoods. However, since they are overwhelmed with work, they have notime to prepare healthy meals and thus they are forced to opt forreadily available food. Since most of the scholars have concentratedon diet and exercises, there is need for addressing this issue in adifferent way. This background study seeks to review the problem ofobesity in the U.S and the gaps in literature, while invoking newstrategies to deal with the problem.
Differentresearchers have explored on the issue of obesity, assessing itsprevalence and demographical data. Hedley et al. (2004) for instancecarried out a study seeking to find out the prevalence of obesity andoverweight among adults and children respectively. Using data fromNHANES, the research found that there is no decrease in the rate ofobesity and overweight, despite the knowledge of the dangers of beingoverweight or obese. The trend is also noted by Ogden et al. (2006)who also used data from NHANES over a different period of 2003 to2004. The authors noted that 32.2 percent of all adult participantswere obese while 17.1 percent of children were overweight. In a sixyears period between 1999 and 2004 also revealed an increase in thetrend, even though no significant change was noted for women. Thelatest study by Ogden et al. (2014) which also compared the trendbetween 2011 and 2012 concluded that the trend in obesity in the U.Sis still worrying and advocate for continuous monitoring.
Theyouth and a majority of school going children are also affected byobesity. This is due to changes in lifestyle of kids at home, theyjust like adults adopting sedentary lifestyles are at risk ofobesity. Children who spend more of their time viewing screen,including video games or movies, have little sleep and do not eattheir meals as a family are at a higher risk of obesity. Theprevalence of obesity was found to be lower by 40% among children whowere exposed to the three household routines which include limitedscreen viewing period, regular evening meals as a family, and enoughsleep as compared to those children not exposed to such routines(Anderson & Whitaker, 2010). Therefore, if this household routinecan be adopted by families, it can help in decreasing the rate atwhich children become obese.
Theissue of obesity does not only present a challenge to health, butalso to social-economic development. People who are obese are likelyto be inactive hence their production rate is very low. In addition,lifestyle diseases caused by obesity such as diabetes andhypertension could mean that the person will need sick-offs to attendto doctor’s appointments. This in turn affects the out-put of thatperson. The WHO had predicted that, the obesity issue could by 2012force counties like the U.S to spend over 17.1 percent of their GDPon health (Dube et al., 2010). The developing countries are alsolikely to suffer from this menace as the trend is also threatening inthese countries.
Inaddition, studies have shown that, ethnicity has a greater influenceon obesity. As such, African American are at a greater risk ofbecoming obese than any other group in the United States (Bailey,2006). As a result, they are likely to suffer the consequences ofunhealthy weight which include stroke, hypertension andcardiovascular diseases at an early age. Klebanov, Evans, &Brooks-Gunn (2014) studied the connection between children born withlow birth weight and obesity later in life. They established thatchildren born of African American ethnicity are at a higher risk ofbecoming obese than any other group in the population. This is highlyassociated with their choice of foods, which portray the broader viewof health, food, body image, dieting, exercises and body fitnessamong this group. Khoo et al. (2011) also investigated on therelation between obesity and ethnicity using three metabolicpathways insulin resistance, inflammation and adioponectinassociated with pathogenesis cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Theinfluence was found to be higher among Chinese people as compared toother races.
Socialeconomic status (SES) has also been explored in relation to obesity.Those individuals with ready access to high energy foods, (loweconomic status in developing world and high economic status indeveloped world) are likely to be obese (Wnag & Lim, 2012). Thelack of access to healthy or balanced diet among the poor has beenlinked to high obesity rates among people in low social economicstatus. One of the reasons for this is because carbohydrates foodsare more readily available and affordable as compared to proteinsespecially animal protein which is a first class protein. Inaddition, neighborhood has been found to influence obesity incidence.In a study by Knai et al. (2012) carried out in 22 countries inEurope to assess the increasing obesity incidence in Europe revealedthat change in lifestyle has influenced overweight. The effect islargely felt among individuals with low social economic status.
Dietand lifestyle change as well as exercising has been largely advocatedto address the problem in the past as well as today. Some scholarshave cited an overhaul in social structures to address the problem ofobesity. Type 2 diabetes which is closely linked to obesity andsedentary lifestyle is also managed through lifestyle change anddieting (Hu, 2011). There is also a problem in the treatment ofobesity as only one medication has been approved for treatingobesity, which makes medical management of obesity insignificant. Theprevious approaches have not been successful in dealing with theproblem. Healthy diet and exercising has not been able to address theobesity problem. This is a clear path for scholars to project otherinitiatives to address the problem. One proposed initiative has beenthe restructuring of the social environment to ensure that, people’slifestyle are healthy. In addition, policy makers must tightenregulation for manufactures to make more healthy foods. Salt forinstance has been cited as one of the factors contributing to weightgain, due to its potential of increasing water retention in the body.As such, manufacturers need to be compelled to use less salt in theirproducts to address the issue of obesity. Besides, advertisers havecontinued to promote their products without citing the health risksthat these products posses. Since previous initiatives have notworked, policies pushing advertisers to advice consumers on healthrisks of their products may help address this issue.
Otherresearchers such as Oliver (2006) are of contradicting opinionregarding obesity. They perceive the issue of obesity being apandemic as the making of some individuals in collaboration with FDAand weight loss companies to make money. This is an interesting viewthat more studies need to be done to authenticate, whether obesitycauses more health problems than any other health issue.
Thegap in literature to show that the obesity menace is a fuss is welllinked to this project. The current project has provided severalevidences from various studies, which disapprove this view. Theseinclude the studies done by various authors using credible data fromNHANES to access the prevalence of obesity in the United States. Thestudy also done in Europe also portrayed similar results, showing anincrease in obesity and overweight and the health effects that theyhave on a population. WHO, being an independent internationalorganization has also raised concern from its own undertakingsregarding obesity pandemic.
Anothermajor gap in literature that this project has revealed is on thetreatment of obesity. The WHO has warned that, the current generationwill have the shortest life expectancy as a result of increasedprevalence of obesity and the risks associated with it (Dube, 2010). Despite several scholars advising on the healthy way to avoid beingoverweight or obese, there has been very little in the provision oftreatment methods for obesity. With only one approved medicaltreatment of the problem, there is need to invest in ways that canhelp treat the problem, to give hope to the millions of peoplestruggling with overweight and obesity.
Therehas been great development on knowledge regarding maintaining ahealthy weight. Among them is the practice of good nutrition andregular exercising. Nevertheless the changing lifestyles of people,both at work and at home have contributed greatly to the problem.Most people work in the office which means they are inactive for mostpart of their time. On the other hand, homes have been equipped withmachines to make house chores easier such as washing machines thuspeople do not benefit from such activities which are a good source ofexercises. There is need for the stakeholders including thegovernment to address this issue in a more comprehensive manner. Forinstance, strict regulations should be formulated by the governmentto ensure that food manufacturers add the right ingredients in theircorrect amounts in food products as well as follow rules for healthydiet such as low salt, and low calorie food products. Policy makersneed to focus on the issue as it is a threat not only to health, butalso to economic development (Acs, Lyles, & Stanton, 2007).
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