Obesity is one of the major problems that continue to haunt the American population. It is currently considered an epidemic as the Americans are referred to as the ‘fat nation’. Obesity cuts almost equally across all ages but the increasing number of overweight children in America raises great concerns. Most people tend to use the terms obesity and overweight interchangeably. However, while obesity refers to excessive body fat about the lean body mass, a person is considered overweight if his body weight exceeds the recommended body weight by more than 10% (Anonymous, par 6).
This problem of obesity has been attributed to numerous causes. American prevalence of fast food meals that contain high levels of fats and calories significantly increase obese incidences in the country. Furthermore, the American population especially the younger generation is inactive and spends most of their free time watching TV and playing video games instead of exercising to burn out excess calories which leads to accumulation of calories and may lead to obesity.
Obesity statistical trends in America
Back in 2004, the US center for disease control and prevention declared obesity as the leading health risk in the country (Anonymous, par1). In early August 2010, CDC released the report ‘ state-specific obesity prevalence among the United States; 1999’ that further highlighted the raging problem of obesity in the country. The report was on a phone survey research that was conducted on approximately four hundred thousand American respondents who provided information regarding their body size and weights
which was then compared against the body mass index of 30 which is the standard obese index (Brady, par 2). The report revealed that there was a 1.1% increase in obesity cases among the population which is approximately 2.4 million American people (Brady, par 4).
The previous reports display an upward trend of obesity prevalence among the American population. In 2000, non of the American states exceeded 30% in terms of obesity prevalence but the previous report published in 07 the three states had hit the mark and in 2009 the number of states with over 30% had tripled to nine states (Brady, par 3). None of the state had an obesity prevalence below 15% which has been defined as the health people goal of 2010 (Brady, par 3).
The report further narrowed the statistics to race education and state of residence whereby the highest prevalence of obesity was found among the non Hispanic blacks and among the non high school graduates. The southern states also had a higher prevalence than the mid west (Brady, par 6) This report further revealed that obese individuals incur higher medical costs than those individuals with normal weight with a difference of $1,429 (Brady, par 7).
Biological explanations of obesity
Biological explanation of obesity dates back to many centuries ago. In the pre scientific era people with obesity were noted as people with unusual features and gigantic sizes. However, after the World War 2 tremendous growth was achieved in national institutes of health and this facilitated to the scientific development of obesity studies through establishment of associations to study the condition (Bouchard and Bray 23).
The first journal on obesity to be published was the International journal of obesity in 1979. Series of meetings were held to promote the study. The first meeting of the North America Association for the study of obesity was held in New York in 1982 (Bouchard and Bray 23) and as the growth continued, another journal obesity and weight regulation was published in 1980. The North America association for the study of obesity published their journal in 1993 titled obesity research (Bouchard and Bray 23). Establishment and growth in scientific institutions further promoted the development of a scientific approach towards the study of obesity.
Obesity occurs as a result of energy imbalances in an individual’s body. Some of the enzymes that may cause these imbalances include insulin, leptin, intestinal chemicals among other chemicals. According to the existing research no definite causes of child hood obesity have been identified but it is evident that weight and adiposity are entrenched during the individual early stages of life (Linton and Larry 44).
Genetic predispositions are important factors in determining the likelihood of occurrence of obese conditions in children.” Parental obesity is the single most important predictor of childhood obesity in children under the age of ten” (Linton and Larry 44). Statistics further indicate that a small percentage of children born by normal parents are likely to develop obesity in adulthood and the risk increases when either one or both parents are obese (Linton and Larry 44).
Effects of obesity on individual’s health
Obesity is a risk factor which may lead to various health complications in the patient (Kirby Par 9). Obese individuals are likely to develop cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart diseases, stroke, gallstones, and infertility among other fatal health conditions. People who suffer from obesity undergo social stigma on daily basis which has psychological affects on their self esteem and self image. This is especially because in the American society there exists predetermined standard body sizes and those who do not meet the standards are intimidated. Obese people have to deal with other difficulties e.g. sweating excessively. Obesity also reduces life expectancy as well as increasing the risk of early mortality (Kirby par 10).
Clinical approach to treatment of obesity
It is important for every individual to avoid developing obesity as much as they can. However, actual treatment of obesity is available at health facilities and patients are provided with numerous options to choose from. Behavioral changes such as taking healthy diet and implementing regular exercise may not be effective on all individuals battling with weight management hence the need for drug therapy (Anonymous par 2).
The current available drug therapy treatment for obesity takes two forms; long term and short term obesity treatments (Anonymous par3). Long term treatment includes sympathomimetic drugs which suppress the individual appetite e.g. Meridia and Lipase inhibitors drugs which prevent the action of enzymes that break down fat e.g. Xenical (Anonymous par 5). The short term weight loss approved prescription drugs include Bontril and Didrex among others but these drugs are not suitable for obese individuals suffering from chronic conditions such as heart diseases and hypertension (Anonymous par 6).
The health sector also provides another option of obesity surgery which is applied as the last resort. It is recommended for patients with a body mass exceeding 40 or for individuals who range from 35 to 39.9 and are suffering from medical conditions associated with obesity (Anonymous, par 3). This surgery enables the patients to rapidly loose weight within a considerably short duration of time. However the procedure is associated with side effects such as rupturing of the blood vessels, injury of the spleen, among other serious complications. It is important to fully inform the patient on the risks associated with the procedure before he decides to undergo surgery.
Solutions to the obesity problem
In order to combat the widespread epidemic in the country, the people must be fully dedicated to living healthy lifestyles. Being active and doing exercises as well as eating healthy balanced diet would significantly reduce the number of obese cases in America. The health sector should extensively educate the population on the effects of obesity on health and promote healthy living through school and internet based intervention targeting the younger population who spend considerably large amounts of time in school and on the internet. These interventions will influence behavioral change among the people and will help in quest to combat obesity in the country (Linton and Larry 45).
Obesity is a wide spread problem that requires urgent attention in the society. It is important for the Americans to change their attitudes towards obese individuals and instead of treating them as outcasts; they should provide support and encourage them to loose weight for their health purposes. Obese individuals should be professionally assisted to improve their self image and motivate them to live healthy lives. Americans will succeed in the fight against the epidemic only every individual actively participates in promotion of healthy lifestyles and uphold the values associated with it.
Anonymous: Obesity in America: Understanding obesity-Combating obesity, 2010. Obesity in America.
Bouchard Claude & Bray A. George: Handbook of obesity: etiology and pathophysiology, CRC press, 2004. Print.
Brady, Susan: Obesity in America, The new CDC report is a reminder, Health news, 2010. Google articles.
Kirby Sharon: What are the health effects of obesity: the risks and dangers of excess body fat and being clinically obese, Suite 101, 2009. Google articles.
Larry C. James, Linton C. John: Handbook of obesity intervention for the lifespan, 2008. Print.