Has obesity in the USA reached alarming proportions?
Yes, definitely. It is widely believed that between the years 1980 -2000, the rate of obesity has doubled among US adults. (Facts about obesity in the United States, n.d.). It is conservatively estimated that in the US, nearly 30% of the population, i.e. 60 million people are obese, or are at risk of obesity. Among children, the statistics are even more bewildering. It is believed that since 1980, the incidence of obesity among children has doubled, and among adolescents, this has trebled, leading these vulnerable segments of the population exposed to severe health risks arising out of obesity. (Facts about obesity in the United States, n.d.).
Different positions are taken with regard to the problem
One of the main risks that arise out of obesity is the kind of diseases that are medically associated with it. These could range from Type II diabetes, Cardio-vascular diseases, physical disabilities, and hypertension, not to speak of a host of other conditions that may lend themselves to this health condition. Diabetes, a silent killer is also actively associated with obesity, although not all obese people need to be diabetics.
“Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease, type II diabetes, and certain cancers. It is associated with approximately 112,000 deaths each year in the United States. An estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents are overweight, a problem associated with health and social consequences that often continues into adulthood.” (News release, 2006, Secretary Leavitt declares prevention priority activity, para.3).
Cardio-vascular problems may be chronic and may increase with the onset of age. Hypertension once diagnosed needs to be monitored regularly. However, the main issue that may arise would be in terms of the fact whether health issues as the ones mentioned above could arise, independent of obesity.
The other side of the coin
The link between obesity and diseases could be established if and only when the health statistic profiles of normal, non-obese population segments being targets of hypertension, type II diabetes, heart ailments, and other kinds of physical conditions are identified and examined. However, one aspect that medical practitioners agree upon is that fat deposits could lead to artery congestion, or narrowing of heart arteries, leading to greater efforts on part of heart muscles to pump blood all around the circulatory system. This condition is typical to obese people, and if unchecked, could lead to heart failure (Obese people are prone to these health problems, 2009).
Research has proved that more than obesity, factors that trigger health problems could be lack of properly balanced diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables, an obese-prone diet that increases cholesterol levels, sedentary lives and lack of physical exercises, imbalanced lifestyle, and usage of high-risk substances like tobacco, alcohol and non-prescription drugs and stimulants. Sometimes, there are also fears that the use of prescription drugs may become addictive, thus exasperating health care problems and issues connected therewith.
Whether the problem has multiple possible solutions or no solutions at all?
Left to itself, obesity is not a major issue; but it could give rise to a host of physical and psychological problems, especially among children and adolescents.
It is, therefore, necessary that people should become part of national or state obesity action programs that could deal suitably with this condition. It is also necessary that plans need to execute “changes at the family and community levels, showcase various successful community models” (News release, 2006, Secretary Leavitt declares prevention priority activity, para.4) and build partnerships with local health care authorities.
Perhaps, the most significant health symptoms Americans face today would be related to obesity, since this condition could invite several serious diseases and health complications including heart and pancreatic ailments. While medical interventions may at best be diagnostic or seek to contain its health impacts, it is necessary to adopt several preventive, pro-active and pre-emptive measures that could halt obesity, viz. consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, having a healthy lifestyle free of addictions, exercising regularly and intensively, and above all, maintaining a harmonious balance between body and mind including good sleep and rest.
If obesity is to be controlled in the US context, the mindset of most Americans must change from a sedentary and hedonistic style to one of increased physical and mental activities and moderation in all aspects of living. Again, a critical area would be in terms of stomach surgery to reduce its size (thus consuming a lesser quantum of food) or arrest the body’s nutritional intakes through surgery. There are hazards attached to it and hence this could be taken up only upon the recommendations of health care professionals as the best possible option for the patient under such circumstances. Perhaps the fact is not whether a person is obese or otherwise; what is even more important is whether he has a healthy lifestyle – eats, drinks, and exercises moderately and avoids the situation that could be stressful, or injurious to his mental and physical well being.
- Facts about obesity in the United States. (n.d.).
- News release: HHS to sponsor national obesity action forum: Secretary Leavitt declares prevention priority activity. (2006). U.S. Department of Health & Human Service: HHS. Gov: Improving the Health, Safety, and well being of America.
- Obese people are prone to these health problems. (2009). See-Inn.com: Guide to Health Matters.