American obesity problem unique to the world

By Annick de Graaf 2003

Americans like to say that the United States is superior, bigger and better than other countries. I don’t really like to say things like this, but I have to admit sometimes it’s the truth. At least it is true of the people themselves, who are bigger; six out of 10 Americans are overweight or obese.

Having read that, your first question may be: When is someone overweight or obese? Obesity is determined by body mass index (BMI), wich is a measure of a person’s weight in relation to height. A rating of 25 or higher is considered overweight, 30 or higher is obese and 40 or higher is extremely obese.

What are the causes of obesity? Obesity tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic link. Yet families also share diet and lifestyle habits that may also contribute to obesity. Of course, another important factor is the level of physical activity. Psychological factors also influence eating habits. Many people eat in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness or anger. Some illnesses can lead to obesity or a tendency to gain weight. Drugs such as steroids and some antidepressants may also cause weight gain. This suggests that some people just can’t help it.

But there are two things that can always help. Diet and exercise.

According to USA Today, new statistics reveal that 64.5 percent of American adults are overweight. This is the highest level ever recorded.

New studies suggest one in four overweight children is already showing signs of Type II diabetes (impaired glucose intolerance), and 85 percent of these children are obese. Whereas 4 percent of childhood diabetes was Type II in 1990, that number has risen to approximately 20 percent, and 60 percent of overweight children already have one risk factor for heart disease.

“Obesity is the dark side of a technically advanced society,” James Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Services Center in Denver, said. “We have to start programs to fight this obesity epidemic. If something doesn’t happen, the next time the statistics will be even worse.”

I agree that something has to happen, because everybody can see that the numbers will keep increasing. But according to this man, there is no other technically advanced society in the world because no one else has this serious of a problem with overweight and obesity. Europe, especially the western part of Europe, is as technically advanced as the United States, yet they have few problems with overweight or obesity there, so it must be a technology linked.

I personally consider this a much bigger problem than, as an example, kids who smoke cigarettes or whatever. I don’t say smoking is good, not at all. What I do want to say is that instead of putting so much money in preventing kids from smoking, I, if I was the government, would start pumping money into projects that prevent kids from getting overweight and obese and help kids who are overweight and obese. Because now the only thing the government does is say that it’s not good and that it has to change. That’s an easy way out and not doing anything. The diseases that people can get from overweight or obesity are as bad as diseases people can get from smoking. And maybe if someone would help the kids now, they’d make sure that later their kids won’t get overweight or obese as they once were.

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