When you think of America, what comes to mind? Is it red, white and blue, or stars and stripes? Is it grill outs on the 4th of July? Maybe it’s freedom, and liberty. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, their view on Americans is a lot different from ours. Obesity is a growing problem in the United States and it affects both children and adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, the prevalence of obesity was 39.8 percent and affected about 93.3 million US adults in 2015-2016. Let that number sink in: 93.3 million adults. The United States’ population is 327.2 million. Almost 40 percent are not just overweight, but obese. TorrenceMemorial.org says that determining whether someone is overweight or obese comes from their BMI, or body mass index. A person with a BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight. A person with a BMI anywhere over 30 is considered obese.
Studies show that obesity increases the risk for multiple chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, musculoskeletal disease, cancer, obstructive sleep apnea, kidney disease and abnormal cholesterol, among other health conditions. This not only risks the lives of almost 40 percent of our population, but skyrockets the medical costs of people with obesity. CDC.org says the medical cost for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight in 2017. As people, we must educate and treat ourselves better.
We must start promoting a healthier lifestyle in our country. Obesity will not solve itself overnight, and quite frankly, I believe that obesity will continue to be a leading problem in the United States. I also believe there are multiple ways to decrease the percentage of obese Americans, or at least keep the percentage at a consistent rate, rather than going up. Healthy, fresh foods are not affordable for everyone. For many people, it’s much easier to run to McDonald’s and grab something off the Dollar Menu. Making healthier options more accessible to not only people, but families, could make a huge change to the fast food stigma in America. In my opinion, school lunches have gotten better since I was in elementary school. More fruits and vegetables are available. Although many still complain about school lunches, they have taken a step in the right direction by requiring a certain amount of fruit or vegetables to be purchased with each lunch. Children should be taught not just in school but also by parents what a healthy lifestyle looks like. I am not saying to completely eliminate all fried foods and sweets, because that is unrealistic for many people, especially kids and teens. I think that promoting a healthier lifestyle to our children would prevent the risk of obesity.
The health risks of obesity can be avoided. It all starts with education, and motivation to live a healthier lifestyle. The “fat American” stereotype does not have to live forever.