Obesity is a serious health issue that faces many Americans nowadays. In fact, the Centre for Disease Control in the US termed obesity as the number one health risk factor in 2004. Statistics reveal that of all the adults in America, one third is obese while two thirds are either overweight or obese. This worrying obesity in both adults and children has seen even the first lady, Michelle Obama, become a vocal campaigner against child obesity. It is estimated that approximately 122.9 million dollars of the American economy goes into combating obesity and the consequences of its chain reactions. Obesity refers to the situation where one may have a BMI (Basal Metabolic Rate) of more than 30.
Why is obesity a rampant problem in this country? The factors which have triggered this situation are outlined below;
1. One is the fact that the staple foods consumed within the country are foods largely promoting weight gain. The widespread consumption of these foods is spurred on by the fact that they are highly subsidized by the US government. Key among these foods is corn which is largely subsidized and thus affordable and widely accessible to most people.
In addition, most Americans indulge in fast foods which often contain large amounts of fat and cholesterol. Unfortunately, a large number of Americans depend on these fast foods for their everyday sustenance. It is no secret that these foods are largely unhealthy and while very tasty, pose a serious risk to health. To make matters worse, fast food outlets serve their meals in very large portions which are not nutritionally advised.
A related factor is the abundance of environmental chemicals which have been shown to trigger a gain in weight. Such chemicals include phthalates, which have been proved to interfere with the hormones which work to control weight within the body.
2. Another cause for widespread obesity in America is, believe it or not, misinformation. You would be tempted to think that with such high literacy levels and access to information for majority of the population, information would not be a factor. However, the fact remains that too much information has worked to the disadvantage of the American people. This is because there are multiple and conflicting sources of information on what is healthy and what is not. In addition, manufacturers, in recognition of the fact that more people are being more aware of the health implications of what they eat, have misleadingly packaged their products as healthy or low fat even though this isn’t always the case. This fallacy has been propagated by touting fat as the enemy and sneaking in artificial sweeteners which are just as unhealthy as bad fats. What most people don’t know is that there are good fats and bad fats. In fact, good fats are vital for the proper functioning of the body.
3. The high levels of stress in the American society are also a contributing factor to the increasingly worrying trends in obesity. A large number of Americans work in high stress jobs which are often frustrating and lead to frequent burn-outs. The presence of such a stressful environment, in turn, triggers emotional eating. Emotional eating occurs when one turns to food for solace or to ease frustration. Social pressures may also cause one to turn to this sort of comfort eating. Of course, it does not help that a large number of comfort foods are not in the least bit, healthy. They include unhealthy snacks such as ice-cream, chocolate, french-fries and other junk foods.
4. A lack of exercise is another key factor that explains the rise in obesity. Despite the fact that most people know a good exercise regime is vital to staving off obesity, this is easier said than done. The number one excuse that most people give for failing to exercise is the lack of time to do so. This again links up with the fact that most Americans work in high-pressure jobs which means that they seldom make time for exercise. The little free time that they may have is used in sleeping or watching TV. Needless to say, these are all activities which have the words ‘sedentary lifestyle’ written all over them. Another consequence that arises from this is the lack of motivation to engage in any activities that would lead to exercise. The constant exhaustion and pressure just don’t leave any time to think about what may or may not be good for the body. Even when people make the decision to begin a fitness regime, they end up lacking the commitment to see it through and get bored very quickly. This sees them abandoning their fitness routines before they have had the chance to fully reap the benefits that exercising bring with it.
5. The abundance of apparent quick-fix solutions to weight gain is also a culprit in the rising trends of obesity among Americans. Many ‘consultants’ and ‘companies’ have emerged out of the woodwork, claiming to be able to eliminate obesity in a matter of days. This has led to people thinking that they can lead unhealthy lifestyles since they can lose the weight at any time. However, they later realize that these weight-loss programs are not as effective as they claim to be and this leads to frustration when the pounds fail to melt off as fast as they anticipated. The truth is that weight loss cannot occur within a matter of days and even if it does so the pounds are almost always certain to pile back on.
For anyone looking to tackle weight-loss, it is important to analyze the factors which contribute to weight gain and see which ones he or she has fallen prey to. From this point of knowledge, it is therefore easier to tackle obesity since it is the root cause rather than its consequences which would be dealt with.