The remarkably high obesity rate in the United States marks our country as the world’s fattest. Obesity is one of the easiest medical conditions to diagnose, but among the hardest to treat and overcome.
With one-third of Americans suffering from obesity today, we are presented with a huge hurdle for the country to overcome. The three leading states in obesity rates are Mississippi with 34 percent, West Virginia with 32.5 percent and Alabama with 32.2 percent of their populations being severely overweight.
As of 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control, all 50 states in America passed the 20 percent marker for obesity, including the “skinny” state, Colorado, with 21percent of its population being obese.
According to the American Academy for Children and Adolescent Psychiatry, 33 percent of children and adolescents are classified as obese. A child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of being obese as an adult. If one parent is obese, the child has a 50 percent chance of genetically carrying the trait; if both parents are obese, the child has an 80 percent chance of following in their footsteps.
Brandie Freeman, a teacher at Woodland High School, suggests that parents “reduce refined carbohydrate consumption like white flour, rice, sugar and especially corn syrup.
"Your physical state of health is 80 percent diet and 20percent exercise, so while exercise helps, diet is the key.”
Parents need to be aware of the statistics, so they can take the necessary actions regarding diet and exercise habits to preserve the health of their children and themselves.
It is common for obesity to develop in children at the ages of five and six, and also during adolescence. Being severely overweight as a child, or especially an adolescent, can negatively impact self-esteem and make adolescents more vulnerable to ridicule by their peers.
This often leads to depression and other social and emotional problems among these teens.
In contrast to the mental effects of obesity there are, of course, damaging physical effects to consider. These include sudden loss of breath, diabetes, high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.
Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, advises, "Government could start by changing agricultural subsidies, by not making it financially attractive for companies to market unhealthy foods, by placing serious restrictions on marketing to children, and with financial policies that make healthy foods cost less and unhealthy foods cost more."
This way, parents would be able to afford healthier foods for themselves and their children without the worry of higher costs. However, parents need to be more in control of what their children take in for food, instead of complying with the constant pleas for cookies, chips, candy and sodas.
In addition to children and adolescents, obesity has many lasting health problems for adults. Some of these issues include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, cancer and metabolic syndrome; these are all connected to a lack of mobility.
High blood pressure is caused by the additional stress put on blood vessels when they must supply oxygen to the many fat cells throughout the body. Obesity also is a common cause of Type 2 diabetes, because fat cells cause resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar.
According to Stanford Hospital, heart disease is 10 times more likely for an obese person than one of a healthy weight. Extra fat puts additional strain on joints, particularly the knees and hips, which leads to osteoarthritis.
In addition, sleep apnea is a very dangerous, prevalent condition among overweight males; it's when a person stops breathing for brief periods of time during his sleep. The risk of accumulating these hazardous medical conditions increases dramatically as a person’s weight increases.
Neglecting good nutrition and exercise is the most common cause of obesity; however, there are a number of hormone diseases that apply to the thyroid, adrenal glands and pituitary glands. Also, many prescription drugs for mood disorders, seizures and diabetes have been linked to weight gain of up to 10 pounds per month in some extreme cases. People with these diseases and disorders have no control over their weight gain, and unfortunately often fall victim to the condescending opinions of society.
Our nation’s obesity rate is increasing dramatically. Most people do not understand the many health issues which increase the presence of obesity among people.
Children are the individuals most impacted by this rising epidemic. In some cases, parents can pass on genes that make their children more susceptible to obesity. However, some children lack the initiative to become more active and stay healthy.
Our nation, as a whole, needs to be more aware of serious condition, so it can be curtailed in future generations.