What is being done about obesity in America?

By James Humes
November 8, 2018

Obesity is one of America’s main health concerns and can lead to many other health issues. This is of high importance to health officials because rates of obesity have been increasing since the past 50 years at an alarming rate.

Photo of school nurse’s office. Taken by James Humes

Obesity is typically defined by an individual’s Body Mass Index (BMI) score. A BMI score is a calculated total determined by the weight and height of an individual. Typically, a BMI score of 30kg/m2 or higher is considered obese.

Given this standard for diagnosing obesity, the Endocrine Society concluded that 35 percent of US adults and 15 percent of US children are obese today.

Student Reynaldo Pierre said, “I’ve heard that obesity can lead to other health issues over time, so I try to exercise and eat well as much as I can.”

The major concern of individuals with obesity is the threat of other diseases emerging because of weight gain. The Healthcanal reported that University of North Carolina’s Dr. Stephen Hursting concluded that there is a direct link between obesity and 13 forms of cancer, only second to smoking cigarettes.

Due to obesity’s higher prevalence recently, the media has reported more on this issue. Often, the media can depict obese individuals in a negative light. These negative perceptions can lead to prejudice feelings against obese individuals over time.

“I’ve seen representation of individuals that are obese on TV, movies and music artists more recently,” student Nick Falcone said.

What many may not be aware of is that obesity has many causes. Healthline states that many causes of obesity including: genetic factors, several medical conditions, lack of sleep, growing older, pregnancy, depression, medications, diets high in fats and calories and a sedentary lifestyle.

“Over-eating and lack of exercise are the basic causes of obesity,” nurse Susan Fitzgerald said.

Photo of scale. Taken by James Humes

Other factors that many not be aware of is the environment an individual is apart of. Many school lunches for children or grocery stores in a community may not have a selection of foods low in fat and calories compared to other grocery stores.

A neighborhood may not be safe enough for someone to feel comfortable going outside and exercising regularly as well. Not to mention stigmas many people can hold about obese individuals that could prevent their involvement in exercise activities.

Due to obesity becoming more common, many treatment methods have been emerging as a result. The main forms of treatment are usually a change in diet and an increased exercise regimen. Other forms of treatment are weight loss surgeries, which have become more common recently.

Today, many more are aware of obesity and the causes of obesity than in years past. This knowledge and discussion about health concerns can lead to different treatments and preventatives over time.

James Humes

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