- Erik Petrosyan
One in every three adults in the United States is obese, not to mention the other third of the population that is simply overweight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 200 million people in the United States exceed the standard weight of a healthy individual. That is nearly seventy percent of the population that is considered overweight. Numerous people don’t understand the difference between the state of being overweight and being obese. Being overweight refers to an extra amount of body weight that can be caused by having excess bones, muscle, fat and water while being obese is strictly locked down for large amounts of fat (Ambinder). Obesity is attained when a person reaches a certain body mass index. Adults with a BMI of 25 – 29.9 fall in the overweight class, while adults with a BMI of thirty or more fall in the obese class (Ambinder). This plague of the 21st century can cause several types of life-altering diseases including heart failure, type II diabetes, hypertension, cancer, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, etc. (Ambinder). Obesity is a health problem that has reached pandemic levels in the United States that can be prevented with an active life style, strong metabolism, and proper sleep.
Initially, having a vibrant lifestyle is vital to losing weight. Wasting so much time of the day in a car, watching television, playing games, or simply living a lazy lifestyle makes it almost impossible to cut off pounds. In 2011, Los Angeles County, California, set aside nearly $16 million in funding for an enterprise aimed at limiting obesity, which involved growing bike networks and endorsing open spaces (Maciag). “When cutting expenses, health costs are an easy target” said Mike Maciag in his article “Analysis: Cities With” as he went on to show that a recent study done by two Lehigh University researchers conveyed $190 billion accounted annually for costs related to obesity in U.S. health expenses, nearly twenty-one percent of the country’s total bill. “Approximately half of Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado, metro area residents are neither overweight nor obese” (Maciag). Although this sounds like nothing, Collins-Loveland has the highest percentage of healthy citizens of all metro areas surveyed for the CDC’s 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a yearly telephone survey evaluating a variety of health issues (Maciag). Thus, the records indicate 5.3 percent of Fort Collins-Loveland area residents walk or bike as their first choice of transportation to either work or personal reasons, one of the uppermost rates in the country (Maciag). Metropolitan areas with the less overweight individuals are “home to high counts of walkers and bike commuters” (Maciag).
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A strong metabolism is a necessity for one’s body to be able to use all the food consumed. A metabolism is the process where one’s body converts the food consumed into usable energy. A failure to balance an excess of food, exercise or sleep would upset the body’s metabolism. In the article on WebMD, “Lose Weight Fast” by Kathleen M. Zelman, to obtain a faster metabolism one needs to have light snacks every two or three hours. This way, the body is constantly using energy to burn the extra food consumed plus the fat stored in the body to produce more energy (Zelman). Foods that will boost one’s metabolism usually contain lots of iron (Zelman). Eating enough of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated mostly found in nuts and oil will provide one’s body the fats it need without putting on extra weight because these fats have Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids which lower cholesterol, boost metabolisms, and supplement in over sixty health issues according to “61 Health Benefits” (Robinson). There is evidence that an everyday diet based on entire plant foods can avoid or reverse most of the chronic health issues afflicting America – high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, etc. (Robinson). Self-esteem and health concerns are the best motivating factors for weight loss in teens. “Part of the routine to weight loss is cutting back on sugar and portion sizes, while having a constant fruit and vegetable intake” said Nanci Hellmich in the article “Weight Loss Crucial”. She also mentions that Olivia Tilini, a student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, started eating healthy foods by not having greasy foods, chips and sweets in her daily intake. She also dropped portion sizes without counting calories, grams of fat, or carbs. “In five months, she lost fifty-five pounds and weighed 170 pounds. She has kept it off ever since by eating healthy and working out every day.” (Hellmich).
Starvation slows the metabolism and allows the human body to burn the fuel provided by food more efficiently. Obviously, metabolism and weight are connected in some fashion. Studies have shown that the speed at which food is converted into energy varies greatly among individuals and that a variety of factors probably influence the process (Goode). Among them are exercise, age, how much food is consumed and whether calories are eaten in the form of fat, protein or carbohydrates. Scientists believe that one’s metabolism is affiliated as much with genetics as one’s daily diet (Goode). It is still unclear how the specific instructions about weight and weight distribution are inscribed into strips of DNA and passed down through the generations. But research shows that scientists are convinced that genes somehow dictate aspects of the metabolic process, the speed and efficiency with which food is converted into energy, and they are developing theories about the mechanisms at work (Goode). These unfortunate inequalities of weight point to genetic influences that have become a central focus of new research (Goode). The evidence provided by large-scale studies indicates that children of obese parents are 3 to 4 times more likely to be fat than children of lean parents (Goode).
Another key point to losing weight is getting the right amount of sleep. Skipping sleep prepares one’s brain to make poor decisions. It reduces activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, the center of decision-making and impulse control (Does Sleep Affect). When overtired, the brain’s reward centers start up, in search for something that feels pleasing (Does Sleep Affect). So while one might be able to get rid of comfort food cravings when well-rested, a sleep-deprived brain might have trouble saying no to another slice of cake. A second study discovered that too little sleep prompts people to eat larger portions of all types of foods, increasing weight gain (Does Sleep Affect). According to the article “Sleep More, Weigh Less”, in a review of eighteen studies, researchers learned that a lack of sleep steered to increased cravings for high-carbohydrate, energy-dense foods.
Sleep is considered as nutrition for the brain. The majority of people need and desire between seven and nine hours every night (Sleep More, Weigh). If an individual gets less than that, their body will respond in ways that lead even the utmost determined dieter straight to iHop. Why? Because sleep deficiency affects hunger and fullness hormones, including the more significant ones called ghrelin and leptin (Sleep More, Weigh). Ghrelin alerts one’s brain that they’re hungry and it’s time to feast. When sleep-deprived, one’s body creates more ghrelin (Sleep More, Weigh). Leptin works the opposite way; it tells the brain that the person is full and to stop eating. When not getting enough sleep, leptin levels fall, signaling the brain to eat more food (Sleep More, Weigh). Then there’s the cortisol spike which occurs from the lack of sleep. This stress hormone hints the body to save energy for fuel during waking hours (Sleep More, Weigh). University of Chicago researchers say, within just four days of insufficient sleep, a body’s ability to process insulin, the hormone desired to change starches, sugar, and other foods into energy the body can use, doesn’t function properly. The researchers found that, insulin sensitivity decreased by more than thirty percent. When a body doesn’t respond properly to insulin, it has trouble processing fats from the bloodstream; as a result, it stores them as fat that affects nutrition levels.
In order to receive right amount of nutrition, junk and fast foods must be abandoned from one’s diet. As a solution, taxing junk foods will decrease consumption of unhealthy foods and decrease obesity rates. Raising the price of food for home consumption by ten percent can lower the body fat percentage in adolescences by about eight or nine percent, according to new statistics and research from the National Bureau of Economic Research (Whoriskey). This new research, concentrating on adolescences, strengthens the idea that prices of junk and fast foods affect obesity and that raising these costs would help, but at the same time this would increase the prices of healthy and organic foods, such as fruits and vegetables (Whoriskey). The research also showed that individuals from different groups – whites and nonwhites, males and females – have diverse repercussions to increased food prices (Whoriskey). For example, raising the prices of fast-food lessens the body fat of men more than of women (Whoriskey). On the other hand, costs of fruits and vegetables have a greater effect on females, who have a habit of gaining weight when those prices rise, probably because of a consequential change in their diets (Whoriskey). In correlation with raising fast food prices, the soda companies Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. will work to cut beverage calories in the American diet twenty percent by 2025 through promoting bottled water, low-calorie drinks and smaller portions.
Most of the time, parents are the ones at fault for not looking out after their kids and not making home food. This can be either because the parent is working full-time to have extra income or they are just being lazy. “Fast food is not to blame for childhood obesity, poor eating habits learned in children’s home are” affirms a new study led by the University of North Carolina (Whoriskey). Investigators for the study discovered that while fast food does play a role to having unhealthy children, the leading offender for childhood obesity is cultured dietary habits children perceive at home (Templeton). Although, fast food restaurant menu options inspire unhealthy eating, they should not be held accountable for childhood obesity. Parents need to be responsible for the food choices they make for their children (Templeton). Restaurants don’t force families to eat their food, they don’t tell them what to buy or how much to buy. It would be the same as having liquor stores responsible for one’s drinking habits or developing alcoholism. If parents and their children don’t stand responsible for their own decisions, major changes will not occur. “After all, a restaurant is a business, not a parent.” (Do You Think).
Many people know how bad junk food is for them, yet they still devour every last bit of it. First, there’s the feeling of eating the junk. This includes the taste (sweet, salty, umami, etc.), the smell, and the feel in one’s mouth (Esterl). This last feature, known as “orosensation”, is usually the most important (Esterl). Many food companies spend millions of dollars to uncover the ultimate nourishing stage of crunch in a potato chip. These scientists also experiment the perfect amount of fizzle in sugary soft drinks (Esterl). The second factor is the macronutrient formula and ingredients of the food — the blend of fats, carbohydrates and proteins it contains. In the matter of junk food, manufacturers are trying to find a perfect combination of sugar, salt, and fat that thrills his brain and makes him come back for more. All these tests and factors combine to produce “the sensation that a brain associates with a particular food or drink” (Esterl).
In the United States, more than one third of the population is categorized as obese because of the lack of a dynamic life-style, a fast metabolism, and the right amount of sleep. A daily diet is required to stay in shape and lack health problems such as diabetes and heart disease in the future. People want to be healthier but don’t do anything about it. Many allow their own bodies to take control over their mind and nourish their cravings with greasy, sweet and salty foods. The weakness to one’s thought process and being able to withhold the urge to open that bag of chips is the sight of food. But with the right mentality and determination, those craving can be withheld and even nonexistent. Following these health tips, assures definite weight loss along with the liveliness and encouragement to be better.
“61 Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.”GreenMedInfo. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Oct. 2014.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 May 2014. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.
Ambinder, Marc. “Beating Obesity.”Atlantic Monthly Vol. 305, No. 4. May 2010: 72+.SIRS Issues Researcher.Web. 01 Oct. 2014.
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“Do You Think Fast Food Restaurants Are Responsible for Child Obesity?”“”N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.
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Maciag, Mike. “Analysis: Cities with More Walkers, Bike Commuters are Less Obese.”Governing. 14 Jun. 2012: n.p.SIRS Issues Researcher.Web. 01 Oct. 2014.
“Obesity in U.S. Fast Facts.”CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.
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Templeton, David. “Not Just Vegetarian, but Vegan.”Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 01 Jul. 2014: C.1.SIRS Issues Researcher.Web. 01 Oct. 2014.
Whoriskey, Peter. “Taxing Food Calories Could Help Reduce Obesity, Study Finds.”Washington Post. 27 Jun. 2013: A.17.SIRS Issues Researcher.Web. 09 Oct. 2014.
Zelman, Kathleen. MPH, RD, LDWebMD Expert Column. “How To Lose Weight Fast and Safely – WebMD – Exercise, Counting Calories, and More.”WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2014.
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