Obesity in America, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 65% of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese; roughly one third of the total number of overweight persons is considered obese (Daniels, 2006).  The rate of obesity is increasing at an alarming rate. While federal, state, and local governments have instituted programs intended to fight obesity, more people are now obese than ever before.

The standard by which body fat is usually measured is known as the Body Mass Index (BMI). This measurement is reached by dividing a person’s weight by his or her height. Other means of calculating BMI include the “skinfold” measurement, where folds of skin and fat are measured with a caliper; measuring the waist-to-hip ratio; or even using ultrasound imaging to examine a patient’s abdomen (Daniels, 2006).

The World Health Organization released guidelines in the late 1990’s regarding obesity. According to their figures, those with a BMI greater than 25 are considered to be overweight, while those with a BMI greater than 30 are considered to be obese. Persons with a BMI of 40 or higher are classified as morbidly obese; their level of body fat is so great that it poses the risk of death (Menifield, 2008).

There are many significant health risks associated with obesity. The obese are at greater risk for diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, and even some cancers (typically those associated with the breasts and abdomen) (Menifield, 2008). The rate of increased risk for diabetes among obese women is approximately seven times that of women or normal weight; the rates for men, while a bit lower, are still significant (Daniels, 2006). Obesity almost always comes with comorbidities, meaning that most people who are obese will also suffer from one or more additional health conditions related to obesity (Ward-Smith, 2010). Being overweight puts a tremendous strain on the body, stressing bones and slowing organ function. Fat tissue itself slows the metabolic rate, which creates a cycle of exhaustion in the overweight that makes exercise increasingly difficult.

Obesity also comes with psychosocial ramifications, as the overweight are often subjected to prejudice and unfair treatment in work and social settings. Being obese is often associated with mood disorders such as depression; this psychological comorbidity, just like physical comorbidities, tends to create a cycle that can be difficult to break (Ward-Smith, 2010). Obesity feeds into the depression, while depression can lead to negative behaviors such as overeating and avoiding exercise (Ward-Smith, 2010). Studies have shown that obesity is one of the few remaining areas where prejudice is considered socially acceptable; study groups have shown that many people do not view prejudice against the overweight the same way they perceive prejudice against racial and ethnic groups (Daniels, 2006). This lack of social support only serves to add to the struggles overweight people face.

With the rates of obesity growing at an alarming rate in children, it is clear that an epidemic is at hand. More children than ever before are developing diabetes and acquiring other health conditions associated with obesity (Stencel, 2003). The solution to halting the epidemic lies with children as well. Parents and other family members, as well as supportive adults in schools and other settings have a responsibility to properly educate children about the risks of obesity, and to offer sound, practical advice about exercise and healthy eating (Stencel, 2003). The U.S. department of Health and human Services has initiated several nationwide programs aimed at reducing obesity; these programs offer support to schools and to community health organizations to teach children and adults about healthy eating and healthy living (Ward-Smith, 2010). With so many people suffering from obesity, America cannot afford to sacrifice another generation. Brining and end to the epidemic of obesity must start now.

Works Cited

Daniels, Judi “Obesity: America’s Epidemic: What goes up does not always come down. Is there a solution?” American Journal of Nursing. V106 N1. January 2006. pp40-49.

Menifield, Charles. “Obesity in America.” ABNF Journal. V19 I3. Summer2008 p83-88

Stencel, Christine. “Preventing Obesity in America’s Children.” The national Academies in Focus. V3 I1. Winter 2003.

Ward-Smith, Peggy. “Obesity – America’s Health Crisis.” Urology Nursing. V30 I4. July/August 2010. p 242–245

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