Obesity can be defined as the state of being fat in a way that is not healthy. In other words extremely unhealthy and overweight. The world health organization defines obesity as excessive fat accumulation that causes health risks to both adults and children. The media constantly covers issues related to obesity. Obesity has not been with us from civilization but started back in the mid-1900s. This is mostly due to the introduction and rise of fast food industries and therefore people moved away from homemade meals to packed meals. With the introduction of technology, less manual work is involved in the day-to-day activities and therefore a significant reduction in exercise. This can be seen in the introduction of lifts, buses and electric trains that take us to even to the shortest distances.
Is there really an epidemic
On January 14th the Sydney Morning Herald revealed the alarming statistics of most teenagers eating ‘junk’ for breakfast? The study revealed that about one in ten 12-to-17-year-olds frequently ate chocolate, ice cream, hot chips, burgers, instant noodles, or potato chips for the first meal of the day, and almost a third start the morning with soft drinks or energy drinks. With these shocking revelations, it is not likely to be anything else other than an epidemic. The problem is the belief that processed food was more convenient, more hygienic, and better therefore, families started to eat processed food more often. Also, the rise of the mothers working outside the home became a contributing issue as convenience food was now more prevalent.
The more we let companies produce our food, the more control we let go of and the worse our diets get (Parnell1).
Causes of obesity
Obesity is mostly brought about by genetics and poor lifestyle or in some cases by the two. “Genetic factors that play a part in obesity are; slow metabolism rate, predisposition to gaining fat and health issues that make it difficult to perform physical activities” (Schurman 1). “Poor diets are one of the major contributing factors towards obesity. A healthy diet is one that is low in fat, high in fiber, filled with fresh produce, and consisting of whole foods. A poor diet, on the other hand, is high in fat, low in fiber and filled with processed foods” (Schurman 2). This causes a low metabolism rate which then causes weight gain. The environment is another factor that plays a big role in people being overweight, especially at a young age. “If you grow up in a family that tends to overeat and remain inactive, you are more likely to develop poor lifestyle habits that can lead to obesity” (Schurman 3). Age affects metabolisms by slowing them down therefore fewer calories are burnt. As age progresses the muscles decrease hence making it difficult for a person to break down fat into energy. Culture can also contribute greatly to obesity as people learn to eat and cook in the way they grew up and found the people around them do. For example, how Africans eat their food is different from how the Americans feed. Emotional or Psychological Factors in most cases we use food to celebrate events in our lives and also to comfort us especially during emotional turmoil. When we are feeling lonely and low we tend to run to food for solace. When we are happy we take certain foods to show the celebratory mood. Another factor that contributes to obesity is gender. Men’s bodies are made up of more muscles than fat and more muscles consume more fat and therefore women are more likely to be obese than men. Medical problems: low percentage of obesity can be traced to medical issues such as low thyroid-related functions and hormonal imbalance especially in women who tend to take hormonal family planning drugs that have not been prescribed. Other factors that contribute to obesity include social-economic factors, medication, and illness or injury though at a small percentage (Schurman 5).
More than half of all Americans are too fat. According to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, more than half of all Americans are obese. This translates to about 55%of the total population. This can be attributed to ignorance whereby people take foods labeled as low fat and healthy without necessarily knowing the number of calories contained.
Another contributing factor is people taking large portions of food that are not necessary. There are some guidelines used in weight assessment. The assessment is done with the help of three major types of measures. This includes; body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and the individual’s pre-disposure to diseases and other health issues associated with obesity. Overweight is usually described to be between the BMI of 25 and 29.9 while obesity is described to be the BMI of 30 and above. The definition is common in various countries in the world. For one to be successful in weight loss and consequent weight management the best plan would be calorie reduction, especially in their intake, exercising, and behavior therapy all put together to improve the health of an individual. With this, I think the guidelines are fair and accurate.
Steps that an individual should take to combat obesity
There are three main areas that an individual can look at when attempting to prevent the onset of obesity or to reduce the signs of obesity and its effects on the body (Rooyen 3). “The first and most obvious one is altering the food and drink you consume. The second is doing exercise; whether by increasing the exercise sessions or by starting them if you don’t work out “(Rooyen 3). “The last aspect is drugs that can be taken which works in many different ways to reduce your weight” (Rooyen 3).
“The first two points highlighted above test your strength of will since they require a lot of discipline to maintain them effectively” (Rooyen 4). This is the reason why a lot of people make use of diet drugs to lose weight and to keep weight off (Rooyen 4).
Steps that the State or federal government should take to combat obesity: Controlling private behavior: this can be done through social disapproval. “In these cases as well as those of illegal drug and tobacco use, the first step of action involves social groups attacking widely accepted practices like unhealthy eating” (Kersh and Morone 2). Another way to control behavior is through the use of medical science. This is based on having medical knowledge that is believed to rapidly transform the community by critiquing well-accepted social activities for example eating habits of people like eating fast foods, eating wheat and yeast products that have high calories. The information must not always be very accurate and should only be aimed at changing people’s eating habits. The government should encourage the formation of self-help groups especially in relation to healthy eating issues. Small groups of people can help to encourage people to live healthy lifestyles. Such organizations can go around educating people on making healthy meals and help people to establish exercising schedules. Another way the government can help the people in controlling their private behavior is by demonizing obesity. This can be done either through advertisements or just by the mere use of word of mouth. A good example would be when some foods are advertised like the burgers the government insists on the advertisers to put labels like the nutritionist warn that commonly eating burgers can lead to overweight and consequently obesity. When we talk about demonizing eating habits it does not mean discrimination against obese people.
The government should ensure that the school meals are healthy in order to cub teenage and childhood obesity. This can be done by making sure that all the feeding programs of students are approved by a qualified nutritionist.
The government should also work towards introducing and regulating physical education programs that aim at helping the children exercise and keep fit. All the children should be left to go and play games like soccer, football, cricket, and other games. Introducing health guidance and counseling especially in government schools; can help the children get good advice on eating healthy and hence promoting healthy eating habits. The counselor can help establish the overweight students reduce their weight by drawing schedules for them for example a schedule on the food to take giving specific times and the amount per intake.
Kersh, Rogan and Morone, James. “The Politics of Obesity: Seven Steps to Government Action.” Politics & Public Health. Health affairs. 21(6) (2002)1-12.
Parnell, Liz. “Childhood Obesity Crisis – How Did It Come To This?” Food and Lifestyle. Liz Parnell fun family faith frugality food. 2008. Web.
Schurman, Aysha. “What Are the Causes of Obesity?” Health and wellness Life 123 answers at the speed of life. Weight Loss, Obesity. 2008. Web.