America, our land of plenty, is also the land of obesity and each year the problem worsens. According to US government data, in 2007- 2008, nearly seventy-three million Americans were classified as obese.
In 2009, the CDC reported that thirty-three states had a prevalence of obesity of at least twenty-five percent.
Stop and think about that for a second. Putting it another way, at least one quarter of the population in more than half of the US was considered obese in 2009. And it doesn't look as if the trend will reverse anytime soon. What is causing this to happen?
More Than One Cause
There are no cut and dry reasons for the steady rise in obesity. Many factors contribute to obesity not the least of which include poverty, poor diet, and physical inactivity.
To get a better understanding of obesity, we should look at each of these factors separately.
There's a definite correlation between poverty and obesity. People in the lower income bracket have less availability to healthy foods and access to supermarkets.
The USDA reports that people living in poor rural areas pay more for food and have less choices of products to purchase than people residing in urban areas.
This happens because of two things: first of all, since there aren't many stores to choose from, retailers are able to charge higher prices for the food that they sell.
Secondly, due to the fact that many rural stores are small, they lack sufficient space to sell greater varieties and quantities of food. If you think about it, a similar thing happens to people in underdeveloped metro areas.
If there are only a handful of stores in a given area the stores can raise the price on food items, leaving the residents who likely depend on public transportation to get them to these stores, little choice in the matter.
Poor Diet Is Linked To Obesity
Let's face it, healthy food is expensive. Pre-packaged foods that are high in sodium and saturated fat but low in nutrient quality may not be healthy but they are cheap.
Sodium and saturated fat are linked to cardiovascular disease and obesity. Breads and pasta made from flour contribute to obesity because they cause insulin levels to spike while slowing the metabolism.
Yes, these foods are unhealthy, and there's a good chance that people living on fixed incomes know this, but with limited funds and few options available, impoverished persons must do the best that they can with what they have.
Physical Inactivity Contributes To Obesity
People who are very physically active tend to store less fat than people whom are less active. The body needs a certain number of calories just to maintain basic functions e.g respiration, heart beat, body temperature, etc.
But those energy demands go up when we exercise. The fuel that powers the increased energy demands comes from foods we eat and that which we've stored away in the muscles and liver and fat cells.
People who eat a lot of food, but don't exercise very often tend to be overweight and have extra body fat because their body tends to store away much of what they eat.
If overweight, inactive people continue to take in more energy than they use up, they will become obese, and thus become at greater risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other illnesses.
What Can Be Done?
Stopping the obesity epidemic is a difficult task and it won't be solved overnight. Just because we have some idea about what is causing Americans to become fatter isn't going to make the problem go away.
Actually that's just the first step. Policymakers face hard choices as they balance the need to ensure that every man, woman and child in the United States has access to healthy foods, while at the same time not hindering the right of businesses to make a profit which would have a detrimental effect on our nation's economic growth.
On the personal level, people must look at steps that they can take to improve their health and prevent obesity.
There are no easy answers, but our country can not afford to continue this trend because the longer the problem persists, the harder it will be to fix.
What do you think? Are people making too much of a fuss out of this issue? Can we do anything to prevent obesity on a national level? Tell us about it in the comments.
Rejoice in your redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. Give yourself over to Him and have eternal life.
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Vital Signs: State-Specific Obesity Prevalence Among Adults - - - United States, 2009 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm59e0803a1.htm?s_cid=mm59e0803a1_e%0D%0A
U.S. Obesity Trends http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html
Phil R. Kaufman: Rural Poor Have Less Access To Supermarkets, Large Grocery Stores. Rural Developmental Perspectives, vol. 13, no. 3 http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/rdp/rdp1098/rdp1098c.pdf
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