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Obesity, Its Demographics and Health Effects

The “really serious price” that a nation will pay because of the state and weight of the nation

The serious price that obese people pay as individuals will be a tremendous cost of health care and a diminished capacity as the result of premature death or complications arising from diabetes and overweight problems. For a nation, the serious price that a country populated by obese people is expected to pay manifests through a health care delivery system stretched to the breaking point. Speaking of individuals, obesity affects family, relationships, and career. Obese people struggle against the social impact of obesity, such as problems with self-esteem and the limitations it creates in terms of social interactions (HBO Docs 1).

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It is common to hear stories about obese people being bullied in school or in social media. It is understandable why obese people suffering from low self-image. They are limited in terms of sports activities and other types of social interactions and it makes them feel inferior due to impediments to physical movement.

For a nation, the impact of rampant and uncontrollable obesity incurs a resource scarcity – a great burden is put on the government when it comes to health care services. One can argue that when the health care system was created in the 20th century, it was established on the assumption that only a small number of people will get sick at any particular time of the year. However, if the obesity trend continues, the system will be overwhelmed.

The most recent CDC statistics of overweight/obesity in America

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 72 million American adults are considered obese (1). Those who are suffering from the impacts of obesity have to pay $1400 more for medical procedures as compared to those who do not share the same medical issue. It is interesting to note that there was not a single state in the whole US that can boast of obesity rates lower than 15% of the population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1). Non-Hispanic blacks belong to the ethnic group showing the highest rates of obesity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1).

At least 47% of these adults are obese. The second-highest rate has Hispanics. At least 42.5% of Hispanic adults are suffering from this condition. Among non-Hispanic whites, at least 32% suffer from obesity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1). Finally, among non-Hispanic Asians, at least 10% of the population is considered obese. According to the recent data from the CDC, nearly 40% of adults between 40 and 59 years old are obese. They are followed closely by adults over the age of 60 because in this group 35% of the population is overweight. The last group segment is the young adult segment because 30% of the population is suffering from obesity. Then the young adult’s segment goes featuring an obesity rate of 30%.

There are three stages at the forefront of the epidemic, namely, Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1). The CDC offers no clear answer as to why these three states rank last when it comes to the excessive weight issue. However, a study conducted by Stephanie Broyles from the Biomedical Research Center at the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge indicated that there are areas in the United States that are labeled as “food deserts”, and it means that people have limited access to healthier food alternatives there (Gordon 1).

The Bogalusa study and its most important finding

In the year 1972, Dr. Gerald Berenson, a native of Bogalusa, LA decided to investigate the antecedents of adult cardiovascular diseases (Tulane University – School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine 1). One of the major contributions and significant findings of the Bogalusa study was the observation that adult heart disease and hypertension problems have their beginnings in childhood (Tulane University – School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine 1).

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Changes in the anatomical structures of the individual begin at the age of 5 to 8 (Tulane University – School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine 1). For example, the autopsies that were conducted on children that died prematurely revealed that atherosclerotic lesions in the aorta and coronary vessels point to the fact that heart problems begin at an early age (Tulane University – School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine 1).

The Bogalusa study also found out that environmental factors play a major role in obesity. Furthermore, the study uncovered the fact that controllable environmental factors include diet, consumption of cigarettes, and physical activity (Tulane University – School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine 1).

The Bogalusa Heart Study: the hypotheses, the sample, the research design, the findings

Stephanie Broyles, a researcher from the Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University made a follow-up study. Using data from the Bogalusa study, they wanted to find out the trends related to obesity in children. Her team found out that in the 1970s fewer than one out of six children or, in other words, 14% of the population in the town of Bogalusa was considered overweight.

However, the result of the current study revealed that almost half of the children in the semi-rural town are overweight. Broyles was working on the hypothesis stipulating that towns like Bogalusa do not have adequate access to healthier food. The sample population was taken from the children in Bogalusa. At the end of the study, Broyles made the assumption that in rural areas populated by families with low income, the prevalence of obesity will be higher.

What makes Jack Shonkoff angry and why?

He was angry when he was thinking of the unnecessary deaths caused by obesity. He said that there is a terrible loss whenever people die. Casualties who died due to natural calamities involuntarily pose a negative effect on the productivity of the community or nation. Consider for instance the negative impact of the deaths of thousands of people due to a tsunami. The economy would change because of the high mortality rate due to these disasters. However, Shonkoff realized that the same type of death toll is happening in the United States. Be that as it may, the mortality rate was caused by something that the American people can prevent from happening. He was angry that nothing significant was done to prevent the premature deaths of people all over the country.

The factors that have contributed to the spike in the rates of obesity and morbidity between 1988 and 2008

According to the interviewees, they were greatly influenced by TV commercials selling junk food (Lesser and Clark 1). One can argue that during this time period food companies selling high-calorie junk food also intensified the marketing campaign for these kinds of products. In addition, it can be stated that the prices of foods with higher calorie content had gone down while at the same time it became more expensive to purchase fruits and vegetables. It is cheaper to buy food from a fast-food joint compared to preparing home-cooked meals.

The link between poverty and obesity

The link between poverty and obesity boils down to two factors: education and the lack of access to nutritious food sources. Education is an important key because it helps people to choose to distinguish between high-calorie food and an unhealthy one. They learn the value of choosing food products that have fewer calories and yet packed with vitamins and minerals. Those who do not fully understand the ramifications of consuming soda and junk food will easily reach out for this kind of food in the supermarket. Those who are aware of the potential health problems from the overconsumption of such food and drinks with high sugar content have the tendency to modify their behavior in order to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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Although the lack of education significantly affects the worldview of the people suffering from obesity, it is the lack of resources that contributes to the downward trend when it comes to a healthy lifestyle and diet. Members of poor families can only afford high-calorie junk food to stave off hunger. When mothers sit down to plan out the meals for the week, they have no choice but to buy food allowing them to stretch their budget. It is not hard to understand that fruits and vegetables are more expensive to store, prepare, and cook as compared to the frozen ones which can last longer in the fridge or freezer without spoiling. Junk food items are easy to store and cook.

“There are some regional variations, but it’s all different degrees of terrible.” Dr. Brownell. The most recent statistics on overweight and obesity in South Florida

He meant to say that there are no states or areas in the United States that were untouched by the obesity epidemic. He asserted that obesity is a national issue and that everyone should try their best to solve this problem. This means that if all states suffer from the same problem, then rather sooner then later there will come a time when hundreds of millions of American citizens will suffer from the negative consequences of being overweight.

Although the statements made earlier painted a grim picture for the nation, there are some areas bearing a somewhat bigger burden. For example. in the State of Florida, more than 64% of the adult population is overweight (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1). According to the CDC, the dwellers of Florida are paying for the unhealthy diet and the lack of physical activity.

The role of genetics in overweight/obesity

Genetics plays a major role in the issue of obesity, because of the way the body process the food. There are those struggling to lose weight because of genetic factors. Others are more prone to consume large quantities of food because of genetic factors. Genetic factors are of great significance when it comes to metabolic rate. For example, there are people that can consume high-calorie food but still, they are also able to burn down the calories without having to engage in any kind of physical activity. On the contrary, there are plenty of those who try to lose some weight by engaging in diet and exercise, and yet the efforts are all futile.

How much of the weight is explained by genetics, environment, behavior?

In my case, I believe that genetics plays a major role. It is difficult for me to burn down calories. Therefore, even if I try to eat less, my body tends to lower the metabolism rate and this serves as a self-sabotaging effort to lose weight.

The process of cardiovascular disease and how obesity influences this process

Obesity leads to cardiovascular diseases because it sets off a chain reaction of events. Bigger mass requires greater quantities of food (Marshall 1). The increased food intake entails that the body has to absorb larger amounts of sugar and fat. Byproducts of the digestive process form plaques and other unwanted debris that clog the vessels and arteries. This is the root cause of cardiovascular disease. In addition, an increased weight results in the difficulty to engage in physically demanding work. Overweight people tend to tire easily. Thus, they spend more time resting. Prolonged rest periods ultimately lower the amounts of calories they can burn, and these excess calories are stored as fat. Such a cycle is perpetuated for obese people thus making it harder for them to change their lifestyle and their life expectancy rates.

The 7 factors for ideal cardiovascular health

The seven factors for ideal cardiovascular health are listed as follows: 1) Lose weight; 2) control cholesterol; 3) get active; 4) manage blood pressure; 5) reduce blood sugar; 6) eat better, and 7) stop smoking. I believe that I am part of the 99% of the population because I struggle to lose weight, I do not keep myself active, and I struggle to eat better food.

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Is all body fat created equal?

Not all the fat tissues found in the human body were created equal according to researchers studying obesity. Fat tissues stored in the belly are more harmful than the fat tissue stores in hips and thighs.

Businesses increasing the insurance premiums for obese employees

The appropriate use of this type of strategy can help persuade people to observe the seven factors that lead to a healthy cardiovascular system. It is important to reduce the incidence of obesity in the workplace because overweight issues tend to limit the productivity of the workers. Obese workers engaged in manual labor are required to have a certain level of agility and the inability to use their bodies to perform their work duties. Those people are presumably the ones who are most affected by a growing trend of ordinary people becoming obese.

How can we get people to change their lifestyle and become fit, healthy, and a healthy weight?

Obese people are frustrated with diets. Experts studying obesity and cardiovascular diseases came to an agreement that diets in itself are ineffective intervention strategies. Thus, they suggest it is better to focus on health and ignore the use of diet as the main component of the intervention strategy. In this regard, obese people are encouraged to pay more attention to the food they eat, because health experts believe a high success rate is possible with the application of this type of strategy.

Works Cited

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity. 2016.

Gordon, Serena. Child Obesity Soaring in Rural America. 2010.

HBO Docs. The Weight of the Nation. 2012.

Lesser, Lenard and Dan Clark. The Role of Social Media in Online Weight Management. 2013.

Marshall, Serena. HBO’s Weight of the Nation: A New Solution to an Old Problem?

Tulane University – School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Bogalusa Heart Study. 2016.

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