Obesity crushes America

Causes of obesity and how to combat it


Jackson Bracknell

Junior football player Nathan Brunelle performs a power clean in the gym on Jan. 26, a great exercise to build muscle and increase heart rate.

A preventable disease that has plagued the United States from the inside out: obesity. Obesity has continued to grow in the U.S. ever since the end of World War II, when there was an influx of new food technologies, a nation eager to feed the men returning home, and the highest population influx the country had ever seen.

How has it reached the detrimental point at which we are at today? Americans’ larger portions contribute the most. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average proportion increased 20% from 1980 to 2000, and another 15% from 2000 to 2015. Meat and fat consumption also drastically increased.

The second factor is consumer confusion. There are scores of diets and fads that claim to drop weight fast.

But in reality, none of them really work; most nutrition companies just want your money. Consumers do not understand the difference between diet and nutrition; a perfectly fit individual can follow strict nutrition without following a specific diet.

To add to the confusion, during the 1990s, the fad was low-fat/ sugar free, but when consumers became smarter, they realized they were just ingesting more trans fat and artificial sweeteners, which actually have a worse effect on the body.

Fast food restaurants charge $1.00 for a cheeseburger and $5.00 for a salad. The typical trend is countries with higher rates of poverty have lower rates of obesity. However, with the industrialization of the food industry, that trend reversed. The U.S.’s affluent areas have a high level of obesity, but impoverished areas’ rates are even higher.

So, what? This is America, right?  We can eat what we want, when we want, how we want it.

Although that is true, there is more to the obesity epidemic than a big belly and shortness of breath after climbing a flight of stairs. On the health aspect, obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, respiratory disease, and mental health issues. In fact, according to American Heart Association, the generation of children today could be the first generation in American history that leads a shorter and less healthy life than their parents.

From the economic aspect, Harvard’s School of Public Health estimates obesity may account for as much as $190 billion annually or 21% of all U.S. medical expenses. Healthcare cost for obese patients could result in a bill 150% more than a normal weight patient.

The final and most significant reason for the rise in obesity is cultural acceptance. In the modern day, there has been a cultural uproar on “body shaming.” Though every person is unique and should highlight their individualism, this newfound concept of letting overweight people stay overweight is the real reason for the obesity crisis. Cultural acceptance ties in to a larger issue in the nation of hypersensitivity and an obsession with diversity that is slowly killing America’s exceptionalism.

Obesity should be viewed like cancer; a disease that must be exterminated from the body to live a longer and healthier life. Heart disease, which is accelerated by obesity, killed 598,000 Americans in 2010, as opposed to cancer at 575,000.

From personal experience, I do not follow a strict diet, however, I do limit carbs, cut out soda and fast food, and eat a majority of protein, fruits, and vegetables. I also play a sport and train weights and cardio daily, yet at 5 feet 10 inches and 180 pounds, I am considered slightly overweight. Because muscle does weigh more than fat, if you are on a diet or workout regimen, do not fret over the number on the scale too much on the path to fitness.

At first it is a grind, but slowly exercise becomes an enjoyable hobby to most. Although millions of Americans must make this lifestyle choice to change the path of physical fitness, it starts with one person: you.