Obesity in the United States
Obesity has become one of the major health problems in America today. People seem to be taking in more food with energy yet they are not finding ways to dispense this energy. Obesity has become the leading cause of death because it also contributes to many health problems. In adults, the body mass index (BMI) is used to determine how overweight the person is. People with a BMI of between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight while those with a BMI of 30 and above are considered obese. Other methods of body fat and fat distribution include measuring the skin fold thickness and weight circumference, calculating waist to hip ratio, using ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography. Obesity increases the chances developing diseases such as diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, respiratory problems heart diseases and certain types of cancers such as colon, breast, and prostrate (Vaidya 25). Many people who are overweight or obese suffer emotionally because they face discrimination and social stigma. Poor eating habits and lack of inactivity have contributed to the increase in obesity. People who frequently take in fast foods are at a risk of gaining weight. Sedentary lifestyles have also contributed to many people increasing in weight. A person’s body weight can also be influenced by genes, culture, the environment, socioeconomic factors, behavior and metabolism (CDC). To prevent obesity, these factors have to be taken into account. Obesity can be treated and prevented by changing the diet, increasing the amount of physical activity, behavior modification, pharmacotherapy and surgery.
Solution to the problem
Education is the key to preventing obesity and it should start from an early age. Children need to be taught about responsible eating. It is not enough to tell children that eating snacks and watching television or playing video games is not good for them. Some adults choose to be ignorant when it comes to leading a responsible lifestyle and they only get interested in health matters when they get serious body complications. Children whose parents do not take the initiative of having a healthy lifestyle are also in danger of leading the same kind of lifestyle. Education should also go beyond the home environment and schools should be involved. They should increase the time allocated for physical education and drastically reduce the amount of fast foods and soft drinks offered to the students. Learning about obesity and its consequences should push many people to modify their behavior. Behavioral change will include changing how people eat and their general lifestyle.
Changing the diet should be the first practical approach for dealing with obesity. Fast foods, which contain high amounts of fat and salt, should be avoided. Sugar, including syrup and artificial sugar, is also a major culprit and it should be avoided. Some diets, which advocate for avoiding certain classes of food, should also be avoided. Some foods increase the rate of metabolism in the body and this helps the body to burn the fat more quickly. This is because the human body needs all the nutritional food groups for it to develop and to function in a healthy manner. Good fats, such as those found in fish oils, nuts and olive oils should be encouraged while bad fats, which have been known to increase the amount of cholesterol in the body, should be discouraged. To avoid eating all the time, people should take in carbohydrates such as whole grains and oats. These are not only low in calories, but they also make somebody feel more satisfied and therefore will not consume a lot of food. Instead of taking in soft drinks, fruit and vegetable juices should be consumed. They are free of chemicals and they are full of nutritive values. A person should also take more fruits and vegetables during the day to increase the amount of roughage needed by the body (DeBruyne et al 375). Water is very important for the body and it is usually recommended that a person should take in at least eight glasses of water in a day. It helps in cleansing the body, replenishing lost fluids and it helps in digestion.
Other than dietary changes, people should increase the amount of physical activity they do. Though dietary changes are helpful, they will not be fully effective if the energy taken in form of food remains in the body. Exercise helps to burn the fat in the body and it increases the rate of metabolism (Bray and Bouchard 260). For people who have obesity, it is recommended that they start slowly so that their bodies can take the time to adjust. Extreme exercises can be harmful to their health and they should therefore be avoided. A person should progress slowly, for instance, he or she should start walking short distances everyday or climbing a small fleet of stairs. The person should then increase the distance taken or increase the frequency of the exercise. Extreme exercises such as aerobics, cycling and swimming should then be done at the supervision of physician. Physical activity in schools should be allocated more time. Children should be encouraged to play more and field activities should be encouraged. This does not necessarily mean that every child should excel in a particular sport. Given the freedom, children have the capability of coming up with different fun games which they enjoy. The caregivers, teachers and parents should ensure that children participate in games where they are burning more calories.
Some people prefer taking the easy way out and they will opt to take pills aimed at reducing the amount of calories in the body. Some of these pills have serious side effects and others take a long time before a person sees any results. Some people opt for a more drastic measure such as surgery. Behavioral and lifestyle changes can be difficult. A person should have enough self-will to change their lifestyle but sometimes this is not enough. Many people start well but they later go back to their old patterns because they lack the social support needed. People who are willing to change should socialize with other like-minded people and avoid any negativity. They should see the changes in a positive manner and this will help them as they take this journey. The important thing they should realize is that it did not take them a day to become obese and they should therefore be patient before they see any results.
Bray, A. George and Bouchard, Claude. Handbook of Obesity, Volume 2. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2004. Print
CDC. Overweight and Obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Jan. 2011.
Web. 10 March 2011.
DeBruyne, K. Linda, Pinna Kathryn and Whitney, N. Eleanor. Nutrition and Diet Therapy. New York, NY: Cengage Learning, 2007. Print
Vaidya, Vaersha. Health and Treatment Strategies in Obesity. West Avon Road, CT: Karger Publishers, 2006. Print