Obesity has reached pandemic levels in the United States. Statistics by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) show that by 2013, about 35.7% of Americans suffer from obesity. Obesity is a disease and a medical condition characterized by the accumulation of excess body fats in the body to the extent that it has adverse health effects. The most apparent cause of the high prevalence of obesity in the United States is a shift in culture. The American culture has morphed over the years with electronics being at the center of human activities thus discouraging extensive physical activities among Americans. Similarly, the shift in culture has led Americans into fast foods and microwave dinners. The key to eradicating obesity in the country thus relies on combating the negative effects of the new culture and incorporating critical elements like healthy eating and lifestyles characterized by vigorous physical activities.
The issue of obesity requires a prudent resolution since the medical condition has numerous adverse health effects that continue to manifest themselves among the American population on a daily basis. Studies by the CDC indicate that 18% of deaths in the country between 1986 and 2006 arose from obesity-related symptoms among adults aged between forty and seventy-five (Bellisari 45). The number of obesity-related deaths has risen even since and has spread to such unlikely targets as children. Childhood obesity is a contemporary health and social issue that demonstrates the changing faces of obesity. The figures on obesity-related death have risen over the years. Bellisari (71) argues that the goals set to combat the adverse health effects of obesity have not been successful thus implying that obesity remains a major health issue in the country.
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Everyone recognizes that obesity is a serious issue that requires immediate resolution. Former first lady, Michelle Obama launched the “Let’s move” program to help combat obesity. Such programs have noble courses that require the support of every concerned citizen and government agencies. However, the proposed solutions require a holistic approach that will overhaul the American culture and reintroduce the traditional values including love for physically strenuous activities and proactive lifestyles that encourage healthy eating habits. Similarly, the solutions require the reformation of various critical institutions in the country. The target institutions will help combat the problem while changing the American culture thus making the proposed solutions sustainable.
First, Americans need to change their lifestyles. Over the years, Americans have formed a tendency towards the consumption of substantial soft drinks and fast foods. Preference for the foods arises from the convenience they offer and the cost implications of home cooked meals. The fast-paced American society compels Americans to have convenient snacks and meals at various fast food cafes as attested by the high number of such eateries. Foods like cheeseburgers, pizza, French fries, and Coca-Cola are the top inhibitors of metabolism. The government through concerned agencies must thus begin campaigns designed to counter the culture and encourage Americans to consume homemade organic foods. Such drives would also require strategic policies designed to lower the cost of organic foods to encourage most Americans to prepare homemade foods to replace the current reliance on fast foods.
Similarly, Americans must stop over-relying on electronics and fuel driven machinery for performing basic tasks like lawn mowing. Over the past two decades, Americans have demonstrated a growing preference for electronics as recreational activities. Most teens spend most of their time playing video among other electronic games on their phones. Socialization also takes place online, a feature that minimizes physical contact among people (US House Committee on Government Reform 88). The use of such fuel powered machinery like dirt bikes, SUVs and motorbikes have replaced such physically streaming recreational activities like soccer and cycling among others. Americans drive to work and rely on elevators to access story buildings. Understandably, making such drastic lifestyle changes is difficult. However, families can begin by relocating to live close to their officers and schools to encourage both parents and children to walk to both work and school respectively. Parents should also encourage and challenge their children to take part in physical exercises by minimizing electronics.
Initiating changes in various institutions across the country will help incorporate the lifestyle changes in the culture. The first institution that requires changing is the education system. American schools require a rigorous curriculum characterized by extensive physical activities and a complimentary meal plan to help American children to eat healthily. 18% of American children aged between six and eleven suffer from obesity (Parker 89). The school offers perfect platforms to combat obesity by instilling appropriate values in the children. Michelle Obama attempted to change the feeding program of most schools in the country to incorporate healthy diets that would encourage a holistic growth of the children. The education system thus requires appropriate changes in policies to ensure the sustainability of the healthy feeding program. The curriculum also requires a change to incorporate mandatory physical education and games to help keep the children in shape.
The government, which is the society’s heartbeat, must also change its priorities and formulate policies that combat the problem. The government has the key to eliminating obesity in the country. The government should, for example, change its policy in the agricultural sector. Studies indicate that the government has invested extensively on crops that have adverse health effects on Americans (Alston and Abigail 51). Such crops include wheat, corn, and soy. The abject lack of government additives and subsidies on healthy fruits and vegetables has led to the hike in the price of the products in the market thus locking most Americans from accessing the vital products. The government should thus focus on creating an enabling environment for farmers and entrepreneurs to feed Americans healthy foods to encourage healthy lifestyles. The government should also take the bold step of regulating restaurants. Restaurants must have healthy menus and recipes that safeguard the health of Americans. Restaurants across the country must prioritize the life of children and youth by offering appropriate and healthy menus.
In retrospect, obesity is a pandemic problem in the United States. The health problem that arises from poor eating patterns has infiltrated the American society necessitated by the changing culture. The overreliance on fast foods, electronics, and fuel powered machinery for recreation and performing such necessary chores like mowing lawns have enhanced the prevalence of obesity in the country. Combating the problem thus requires a complete culture change supported by strategic legislation. Americans must strive to change their lifestyles by embracing healthy foods irrespective of the cost and physical activities to burn the excess fat that otherwise accumulates to catastrophic levels. The government should also formulate and implement laws that entrench healthy lifestyles thus sustaining the health of the country.
- Alston, Julian M, and Abigail M. Okrent. The Effects of Farm and Food Policy on Obesity in the United States. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. Print.
- Bellisari, Anna. The Anthropology of Obesity in the United States. New York: Routledge, 2016. Print.
- Parker, Lynn. Legal Strategies in Childhood Obesity Prevention: Workshop Summary. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press, 2011. Print.
- United States Congress House. Committee on Government Reform. The Supersizing of America: The Federal Government’s Role in Combating Obesity and Promoting Healthy Living : Hearing Before the Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives, One Hundred Eighth Congress, Second Session, June 3, 2004. Washington: U.S. G.P.O, 2004. Internet resource.