The United States of America (USA) has a big problem with obesity. According to statistics by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of the US adult population (34.9% or 78.6 million) is obese. An organization called Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) notes that adult obesity rates have doubled from 15 to 30 percent since 1980 (healthyamericans.org). The problem of obesity increases the prevalence of heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, stroke, certain types of cancers, and other leading causes of terminal illnesses. Moreover, health problems associated with obesity cost the US billions of dollars in medical costs. In 2008, the estimated cost was US$147 billion (cdc.gov). The CDC further states that in the same year (2008), the medical costs of obese people were $1,429 higher than that of people of normal weight (cdc.gov). America’s obesity problems emanate from multiple causes such as poor eating habits, genetics, and lack of adequate exercises among others.
Many Americans and especially children are exposed to lifestyles that promote obesity. The CDC notes that many American schools provide students with sugary foods and unhealthy snacks for purchase (cdc.gov). The students access the foods through vending machines, during the school parties, sporting events, and fundraising events among others. Many schools in the US also promote the advertising of unhealthy foods, which influences their eating habits (cdc.gov). The mainstream advertising also targets young people for adverts for foods that are low in essential nutrients and high in calories, salt, sugars, and fats. The advertising of healthy foods such as freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices is almost non-existent. As such, Americans, right from a very young age tend to consume unhealthy foods, and this exposes them to obesity.
Americans do not exercise enough. A report by the CDC recommends at least one hour of aerobic physical activity daily. However, the report notes that many American adolescents (who are expected to be highly active) do not exercise enough. Only 18% of students aged 9-18 years old fulfill the physical exercise requirement (cdc.gov). On the other hand, many Americans, especially children spend a lot of time in passive activities. The use of entertainment media such as TV, video games, movies, cell phones and computers has become commonplace in many American homes. The CDC states that children aged 8-18 years spend an average of 7.5 hours using the entertainment media (cdc.gov). The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH) states that spending more than 2 hours of regular TV viewing increases chances of someone becoming obese or overweight (nhlbi.nih.gov).
The socio-economic divide is also a big contributor to America’s obesity problem. Many poor American families have limited choice and budget for food. They tend to consume sugars, cereals, processed meat and potatoes at the expense of fresh vegetables, lean meats, and fruits. This is so because the former foods are more affordable, and last longer. The neighborhoods in which poor Americans live also limit their access to healthy foods. Poor families may also find it hard to pay for physical activity in schools that have such programs of in facilities where they can sustain to go for physical exercise. On the other hand, the rich people may afford healthy foods but they strangely choose to eat lots of fast foods and exercise less. As such, each side of the socio-economic divide has issues that affect people in a manner as to predispose them to obesity.
Obesity has some genetic causes. In many cases, obesity tends to run in some families. The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) note such a study investigating on obesity and genetics. The study showed that adult people who were adopted as children tended to have weights that were closer to that of their biological and not their adoptive parents (niddk.nih.gov). As such, the genetic makeup of an individual tends to have a lesser impact as compared to the environment and the lifestyle of an individual. It is possible that many obese Americans have been predisposed to the condition through their genetic makeup.
Psychological problems also predispose many Americans to obesity. The economic pressures in the US brought about by intense competition for resources, expensive health care and education among other issues such as unemployment causes considerable psychological problems. According to NIDDK, many people tend to more or carelessly in response to negative pressures such as anger, boredom, or sadness. NIDDK notes that approximately 10 percent of people who are mildly obese have binge eating disorders yet they try to lose weight through commercial weight loss programs or on their own (niddk.nih.gov).
America has an obesity problem, which has escalated since 1980. Obesity problems predispose people to many terminal diseases such as heart conditions. There are a number of causes of obesity such as great exposure of people to poor lifestyles that do not promote healthy living as well as the lack of adequate exercise. Moreover, many Americans (poor or rich) have economic and social issues that cause them to exercise less or lead unhealthy lifestyles. Other factors significant in causing high obesity levels in America are psychological problems and genetic causes.
"Adult Obesity Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 Sept. 2014. Web. 5 Oct. 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html>.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH) What causes overweight and obesity? http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/causes.html
National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases, Understanding Adult obesity-Weight control information network. http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/PDFs/adultobesbw1201.pdf
Trust For America’s Health (TFAH). "Obesity." Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2014. <http://healthyamericans.org/obesity/>.