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Obesity in the United States: Defining the Problem

Introduction, Definition of Terms, and Purpose Statement

Obesity is a significant issue in many developed countries, including the United States. Obesity is defined as a health condition when a person has large amounts of excess fat (Brazier). This issue has become more prevalent in recent decades due to the high availability of foods rich in calories, saturated fat, and carbohydrates. Obesity is now considered to be one of the key public health concerns in the United States because it is linked to a variety of dangerous diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and osteoarthritis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]). The purpose of this report is to examine the issue of obesity in the United States by reviewing its history, causes, and effects.

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The history of obesity is connected to the availability of food. In the Stone Age, people had to search and hunt for food, and thus, they had little opportunity to gain excess weight. In the Middle Ages, however, the situation changed, and obesity became much more common. Buchwald explains that most upper-class persons had excess fat because they had enough money to afford food and employed servants to avoid engaging in daily activities, such as cleaning and gardening. Over time, obesity has grown in prevalence, leading the medical community to start addressing the issue in the late 20th century (Buchwald). However, this did little to stop the obesity crisis looming over the United States and many other countries. A recent report by Abarca-Gómez et al. shows that the rates of obesity increased at a steady pace between the 1970s and the 2010s (2629). As of 2017, almost 40% of Americans were obese, and this figure is expected to grow further (Healy). These figures show that the methods used by medical professionals to control the issue are ineffective, and innovative efforts are required.

Causes of Obesity

The direct cause of obesity is consuming more calories than needed by the body to sustain activity. The preference for high-calorie foods, such as burgers, fries, and pizza, or a sedentary lifestyle can both lead a person to gain excess weight (Braizer). Although most people are aware of this, many still fail to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. This trend requires accounting for the socioeconomic causes of obesity.

As evident from the previous section, the incidence of obesity is tightly linked to the availability of food. Hence, the introduction of high-calorie, cheap food products that can be bought anywhere played a significant role in the obesity crisis. Indeed, people today have access to multiple types of fast food, and meals in fast food restaurants are usually much cheaper than homemade healthy meals. As a result, fast food has become popular among people who cannot afford high-quality, nutritious meals or do not have time to cook. The growing demand and supply for fast food are thus the vital socioeconomic causes of obesity.

Effects of Obesity

Obesity can have an adverse influence on people’s health, longevity, and quality of life. CDC states that obesity decreases people’s life expectancy because it contributes to a variety of deadly diseases. These include hypertension, stroke, coronary artery disease, and certain types of cancers (CDC). Additionally, obesity increases the likelihood of type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, and mental health issues (CDC). People with obesity tend to find engaging in physical activity hard, which has a negative effect on their social functioning and leads to more health problems due to a sedentary lifestyle (CDC). As a person’s weight grows, it might become hard for them to walk or perform regular activities, such as shopping or cleaning, without experiencing pain or fatigue. Returning to a healthy weight helps people to feel more energetic and decreases the symptoms of health conditions connected to obesity.


All in all, obesity is a prevalent phenomenon in many countries of the world. In America, the prevalence of obesity is very high, which poses a threat to public health. Obesity is caused by poor nutrition and exercise habits, which, in turn, are connected to the increased availability of fast food. Obese people face a number of critical health risks, including cardiovascular, metabolic, and mental health issues. Finding practical solutions to the problem of obesity would help to enhance population health.

Works Cited

Abarca-Gómez, Leandra, et al. “Worldwide Trends in Body-Mass Index, Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity from 1975 to 2016: A Pooled Analysis of 2416 Population-Based Measurement Studies in 128·9 Million Children, Adolescents, and Adults.” The Lancet, vol. 390, no. 10113, 2017, pp. 2627-2642.

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Brazier, Yvette. “What is Obesity and What Causes it?” Medical News Today. 2018, Web.

Buchwald, Henry. “A Brief History of Obesity: Truths and Illusions.” Clinical Oncology News, 2018, Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2015, Web.

Healy, Melissa. “Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. Adults Are Now Obese, CDC Says.” Los Angeles Times. 2017, Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 26). Obesity in the United States: Defining the Problem. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, October 26). Obesity in the United States: Defining the Problem.

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"Obesity in the United States: Defining the Problem." StudyCorgi, 26 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Obesity in the United States: Defining the Problem." October 26, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Obesity in the United States: Defining the Problem." October 26, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Obesity in the United States: Defining the Problem." October 26, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Obesity in the United States: Defining the Problem'. 26 October.

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