It is common knowledge that Americans are struggling to maintain a healthier lifestyle. According to one study, “…the US has experienced a steady and steep increase in the prevalence of obesity” (Crawford & Jeffery, 2005). This may also be true in many parts of the world but America always seems to lead when it comes to lifestyle and health issues. This is because the world finds it hard to escape from the impact of American culture, thanks in part to Hollywood as well as some of their very popular products exported around the world. Being a superpower and being active in the international political arena also helps why many are attuned to American way of living. This is all the more reason why Americans must be careful in they way they project themselves. When it comes to health there is no issue that is as crucial and as relevant as obesity. A careful analysis will reveal that obesity is a silent killer, and that it has created an unnecessary pressure in the U.S. healthcare system. In order to mitigate the impact of obesity Americans will have to learn to start eating healthy.
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Obesity is silent killer not only in terms of medical and health reasons but it can also be a killer of opportunities. There are so many things that an obese person cannot do as compared to normal person. An obese man or woman will be limited by the size of his or her body (Crawford & Jeffery, 2005). There are places that are inaccessible and sometimes they cannot fit in a normal-sized chair. It can also be a killer in terms of self-esteem and may prevent the person from achieving his or her dreams in life. Obesity can kill dreams as the person is transformed into something that he or she may not even recognize.
Obesity means that the person’s weight has reached a point where his internal organs are no longer capable of sustaining it. This means that the heart, lungs, liver and other critical parts of the human body will have to work doubly hard to keep an obese person breathing and functioning normally (Nonas & Foster, 2009) If this is not yet clear try to convince an obese person to do strenuous physical exercise and chances are he will have a hard time doing it. One can see the effect of the physical exertion and that it is very taxing to the human body. This is because the weight of the person is no longer within normal range.
The problems related to being overweight, especially in the case of the morbidly obese are easy to understand but sometimes hard to detect in an increasingly sedentary lifestyle preferred by many Americans. If this is a country that depended on agriculture not only for its source of food but also for its livelihood then the impact of obesity can be easily detected. But it so happens that this is the 21st century and more and more Americans are working in an office setting, behind a desk or counter, supervising people or selling. Thus, the onset of obesity is not highlighted early on (Nonas & Foster, 2009). A person who is used to doing manual labor will find it hard to being overweight and for the sake of survival will have to shed off those many extra pounds. The sedentary lifestyle of Americans makes it appear as if being overweight is normal.
The number one concern when it comes to obesity is cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other related health problems. Eventually those who are morbidly obese will die from complications due to these two major types of illnesses. But at the very beginning they will have no idea that they are on a destructive path. The reason for doing so is that obesity is a direct result of something that seems harmless at first. The cause of obesity is having an unhealthy diet. This unhealthy diet consists of eating processed food or junk food that is low in nutrition and yet packed with calories. This can be explained by the fact that processed food had to be sweet or very salty in order for it to be palatable. A fresh fruit will taste great but processed will have to be enhanced in order for it to be tasty. Americans will eat healthy if they are made to understand about the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other related health problems.
Since many Americans do not have a clear understanding of what junk food is doing to their bodies, they will continue to overeat. Then they will not only consume food that is stripped of nutritive content, but the high-calorie content will also increase their girth and make it harder for them to move and therefore adding to the negative impact of obesity. There is a need to educate Americans with regards to the impact of an unhealthy diet, but they may ignore these messages if they will only be informed about the additional weight gain. There must be emphasis given on the medical problems that may arise from obesity. There is also a need for Americans to fully understand the significance of eating junk food.
As mentioned earlier the two major types of medical conditions that are easily linked to obesity are cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. This is not the goal of this study to illuminate on the medical and technical aspects of these medical conditions but suffice it to say that these two are related to the circulatory system primarily the blood and the heart. This is brought about by food that people eat. Aside from making them understand from the medical point of view that eating junk is a problem for their bodies the second best thing to help them understand the peril of obesity and unhealthy diet is to show it to them from an economic point of view. There is a need to reinforce the fact that medical problems arise due to obesity.
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Medical health experts are saying that the cost of obesity is greater than other prominent health issues (Nonas & Foster, 2009). In a study by the Healthcare for Communities researchers were able to determine that obesity increased healthcare cost by $395 per year (Nonas & Foster, 2009). Its significance can only be understood by comparing it to healthcare cost for other medical issues. For instance current and former smokers will only have to shell out $230 per year while alcoholics seeking treatment will only have to spend $150 per annum (Nonas & Foster, 2009). This a tremendous problem for obese people but they are not the only Americans who will have to shoulder the problem because obesity also increased the cost of medical services by 36% and when it comes to medication the cost is an astonishing 77% hike (Nonas & Foster, 2009). What is the meaning for all of these results? Without a doubt it will weaken the financial stability of the individual who is suffering from obesity. It will also weaken the financial stability of a country having to spend a great deal of money to take care of its obese citizens.
The cost of obesity is not only limited to the dollars that were lost because it has to be spent on paying for drugs. This can also mean lost opportunities for other citizens of the United States as funds are diverted for this medical problem. A basic understanding of economics will reveal that if drugs are imported then the government will incur losses because it is being forced to buy these medicines from abroad. Aside from that the money that could have been used for other more important social issues are now diverted to treat those who ironically cannot afford to pay their medical bills and had to rely on some sort of public service system in order for them to get treatment (Bouchard, 2000). Obesity is taking the patient and the whole healthcare system.
In a more technical understanding of obesity health experts remarked that, “Consequently, the proximal cause of the rising prevalence of obesity is a growing imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure…” (Crawford & Jeffery, 2005). It can be argued that if food is taken in moderation and having a bias towards high-fiber and nutritious foods will be a good start to combat obesity. Exercise or the increase in physical activity can follow in due time but it can be said that eating healthy is the good foundation to reverse this trend. There is a need to exercise but it can be said that the most important step is to watch what people eat. Eating healthy must be lifestyle. If Americans will begin to fully understand the connection between obesity and energy intake then they can begin to be more careful with their food habits.
Americans will have to learn to start eating healthy because of the discovery that obesity can steal from them not only their money but their lives. The most productive season of their lives can be easily forfeited if they have an ongoing struggle with obesity. The following will show the impact of obesity to American society as well as to individual lives: a) premature death; b) heart disease; c) cardiovascular disease; d) diabetes; e) high blood pressure; f) colon cancer; and g) depression and anxiety (Bouchard, 2000). If people will realize that obesity is a financial drain as well as a very destructive lifestyle that will take away years from their lives then they will begin to start behaving more prudently when it comes to healthy eating.
If Americans will learn to curb their appetite for junk food then they will not only improve their health but they can also indirectly contribute in the overall economy of the United States by reducing the unnecessary pressure that obesity has created in terms of increased cost of medication and medical services. Obesity is a silent killer not only because of its gradual but lethal effect but it also takes away so much from the individual and society. If Americans will not learn to eat healthily then they will become direct contributors to the weakening of the economic and social components of this country due to premature deaths, depression, and mounting medical bills. It has been made clear that the impact of obesity is fatal diseases that can lead to premature deaths as well as high-cost that will be shouldered by the individual and the state.
Bouchard, C. (2000). Physical Activity and Obesity. IL: Human Kinetics
Crawford, D. & R. Jeffery. (2005). Obesity Prevention and Public Health. New York: Oxford University Press.
Nomas, C. & Foster, G. (2009). Managing Obesity: A Clinical Guide. New York: American Dietetic Association.