Obesity in America is becoming a problem. It has been on the rise since the beginning of the twenty first century, but seems to be getting higher in more recent years. A majority of obese patients have other health issues. These health issues include, but are not limited to, high triglycerides, hypertension, high blood glucose levels, and many other diseases. When a patient is considered to be obese and have at least two others of the health issues listed, they are said to have metabolic syndrome. A person with metabolic syndrome has an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly resulting in a heart attack or stroke. There are many factors that lead to this rise in obesity rates. In America, there are a lot of fast food restaurants that are very convenient, but typically not very healthy foods. Another possible reason for the increased rate is the rise in technology, giving people less of a reason to get outside and be active. Also, schools are limiting the amount of physical education that students have to participate in and offering less after-school activities for students to get involved in.
Obesity in America
At a point in time, obesity was not a common thing to see, especially in children. It is now considered to be an ongoing problem here in the United States. As years go by, more and more people are being diagnosed as obese. The number of Americans that are said to be obese has risen in the past thirty years from 15% to 30% (Emmett & Chandra, 2015). Merriam-Webster dictionary defines obese as having an excessive amount of body fat (Webster, 1959). Obesity is typically determined by determining a person’s body mass index, which is a ratio between their height and weight. In a lot of cases, obesity is associated with other health conditions such as, diabetes, high cholesterol and triglycerides, hypertension, and many other cardiovascular diseases. Whenever a person has three or more of these health issues, they are said to have metabolic syndrome (Bohr, Laurson, & McQueen, 2016). Due to the rise in obesity, there has been a rise in patients with metabolic syndrome. There are many reasons as to why there is an abundance of obese people in America. All around there are fast food restaurants that make it convenient to get food quick and easily. With the constant rise in technology, people have less of a reason to get up and actually do the physical work. Schools are starting to remove some of their after-school sports, resulting in less physical activity for students to participate in.
Fast Food Restaurants
American’s spend over one hundred billion dollars yearly on fast food consumption (Buchholz, 2003). Fast food restaurants are constantly popping up all around America. Just about every main road you drive down, you will see at least one fast food restaurant. Fast food restaurants are very convenient for everyone. The food is prepared and cooked for you and you do not even have to get out to get the food. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, it is not as great as it sounds. Majority of fast food restaurants do not have the healthiest menu. These restaurants are also known for having cheap prices which makes it even more convenient. These not so healthy menus and convenience of the restaurant can easily result in someone becoming overweight.
Rise in Technology
Technology, not only in America, but worldwide, is on a rise. This can be a very good thing, but it also can potentially hurt some Americans who use it too much. There is so much access to technology, not only to adults, but to children also. People are spending more time inside than they are outside because of the easy access to computers, tablets, cell phones, gaming systems, and much more. With this being said, people are participating less and less in physical activities, potentially resulting in weight gain.
Schools are a place where students should have an opportunity to participate in physical activities. In elementary school, students participate in physical education class usually three days a week. In middle school, not all students have to participate in a gym class, meaning that some students have no physical activity during the school week unless they participate in an after-school sport. This is the same situation for high school students as well. Unfortunately, public schools are starting to offer less sports for students to participate in and the sports they do offer, usually cost a lot of money for students to participate in. Physical activity in children is very important to their health. If they do not have the resources at school to participate in physical activity, they are more likely to just go home and possibly lay around the rest of the day or play on their technology devices. Without the proper physical activity needed, they are less likely to be able to maintain a healthy weight as easily. A healthy lifestyle needs to start with children. Typically, an obese child grows up to be an obese adult, which is usually when you start to see other health issues arise.
The 21st century has brought lots of changes to America. Some of these changes have led to higher obesity rates, resulting in some major health issues. Examples that have led to higher obesity rates include, overabundance of fast food restaurants, easy access to technology, and not enough opportunity for children to participate in school physical activities. There are many more reasons as to why the obesity rate has risen, these are just a few that appear to be a big impact on this rise.
- Webster, N. (1959). Students dictionary. A Merriam-Webster. New York: American Book Co.
- Bohr, A. D., Laurson, K., & McQueen, M. B. (2016). A novel cutoff for the waist-to-height ratio predicting metabolic syndrome in young American adults. BMC Public Health, 16(1). doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-2964-6
- Emmett, D., & Chandra, A. (2015). Understanding Obesity Perceptions in America: An Exploratory Study of Public Perceptions of the Problem and Possible Actions for Health Product Marketers. Hospital Topics, 93(4), 92-98. doi: 10.1080/00185868.2015.1120100
- Buchholz, T. G. (2003). Are Fast-Food Establishments Making Americans Fat? Journal of Controversial Medical Claims, 10, 1-10
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