Obesity Trends in United States

Subject: Nutrition
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1387
Topics: Childhood Obesity, American Culture, Community, Health, Obesity

Obesity is a critical metabolic disorder that affects millions of individuals globally. The condition is associated with the deposition of excessive fats in selected body organs, a prospect that results in significant health risks. Obese persons have a BMI greater than 30kgm-2, with the affected persons facing novel health risks which include mortality, morbidity psychological distress. The condition is associated with a number of factors. The primary cause of the obesity epidemic reported across the U.S. include the sedentary lifestyle of the people, dietary choices, and genetic factors. In addition, the obesity problem is associated with unethical trends in advertising, other illnesses, social factors, and gut bacteria. Owing to the negative effects of the condition, it is critical to adopt lifestyle choices that can help to contain the problem. In 2015, the condition was reported in about 700 million persons, translating to 12% of the total global population. In this light, it is essential to establish the trend of obesity in the United States, with a specific focus on the changes that have occurred within the current decade. 

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Outlined Trends

The maps indicate that obesity is a critical problem in the United States. While the problem is prevalent throughout the country, it is notable that some states are more affected by the pandemic. For instance, the states of Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Georgia seem more affected by the condition, with over 30% prevalence of obesity in the adult population (CDC, 2013a). On the contrary, states such as California Utah, Colorado and Hawaii seem to have significantly lower prevalence of obesity ranging between 20 and 25%. However, the statistics indicate that all states have an obesity prevalence rate exceeding 20% (CDC, 2013a). This is an alarming figure which affirms the unhealthy state of the nation. 

Based on the statistics on the overweight population, the state of Nevada has the highest prevalence rate exceeding 38%. This shows that a large proportion of the state, which also has an obesity prevalence rate ranging between 25 and 30%, are at risk of being obese. The trend is emulated all across the United States, with 36 states recording overweight prevalence of 35% or higher. However, the data indicates that about 15 states had the proportion of overweight population lower than 35%. This is a promising statistic that suggests that the latter states might be having effective measures to mitigate obesity and control the factors that cause the condition. However, a review of the cases of age-adjusted diagnosed obesity point to a worsening situation. 

The data indicates that most states that recorded moderate levels of obesity have alarming rates of age-adjusted obesity. Specifically, the data indicate that southern states are worst affected by the pandemic, with California, Arizona and New Mexico previously being part of the league of states with high rates of obesity prevalence (CDC, 2012). Comparative analysis of certain states such as North and South Dakota indicate that while the proportion of obese persons in North Dakota is higher, the population at risk of developing obesity is higher in South Dakota. This suggests that States like South Dakota could easily join the league of states with high prevalence of obesity if no counter, measures are initiated. 

Combined analysis of the data presented in the four charts indicate significant changes in obesity prevalence in parts of the country. The statistics indicate that there is a generally high prevalence of obesity in the US. This could be associated with a raft of factors such as lifestyle choices, diets, genetics, and social influence. In spite of the high prevalence, the statistics reveal that a number of states have realized significant decline. In southern region where virtually all states reported alarmingly high rates of obesity prevalence, the rate has since dropped in California, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico. This could suggest that a number of lifestyle changes have occurred between 2012 and 1013 hence triggering the demographic change. 

In other states, 2013 statistics reveal high proportion of overweight individuals. This could suggest that the lifestyle changes made resulted in loss of significant amount of fats hence a progressive normalization of the BMI. However, states of Michigan and North Dakota have recorded increased prevalence of obesity when the statistics of 2013 and 2012 are compared. This observation could be attributed to the limited measures put in place to combat the obesity crisis. The laxity could have been a result of the low prevalence that were reported in the states in the preceding year (CDC, 2012).  

Analysis of the states that reported significant decline in the rates of prevalence of obesity indicate that a larger proportion of the population worked out more than their counterparts in states that reported stagnation and increases in obesity prevalence. For instance, New Mexico reported that over 55% of its population worked out (through walking or aerobic exercise) for longer. The vigorous activity could have resulted in depletion of the adipose tissues hence a decline in the proportion of the New Mexicans suffering from obesity. Contrastingly, the neighboring state of Texas reported less than 45% of its population working out for a defined period. As such, the state reported higher obesity prevalence rates in 2013 (CDC, 2013c; CDC, 2012).

Analysis of State of California

The state of California has reported a marked improvement in its obesity prevalence. According to the 2012 statistics, the state was among the leaders in obesity prevalence alongside Texas, Louisiana and Arizona (CDC, 2012). The trend has since changed, with California being among the states with the least prevalence (<20%). This change in obesity prevalence in California could be attributed to lifestyle changes among the citizens. The state reported increased aerobic activity of its population. At least 55% of the Californian population engaged in medium or high intensity activity for at least 150 of 75 minutes respectively (CDC, 2013c). As a result, the obese Californian population burnt calories and reduced their fat deposits. This hypothesis is supported by the observed moderately high prevalence of overweight persons in California compared to TX, LA, MS, and AR, all which were in the same obesity prevalence bracket as California in 2012. Therefore, workout has helped most Californians to normalize their BMI. 

Current Trends in Obesity in US

The analysis of current statistics indicates that obesity remains a major problem across the United States. Flegal et al. (2016) indicate that obesity prevalence in the US by 2014 stood at about 35.0% in males and 40.4% in females. This observed disparity could be indicative of the role of gender as a predisposing factor for obesity. The average prevalence of obesity as reported by Flegal et al. (2016) conforms to the proposed trends in obesity by the CDC (CDC, 2013a). On the other hand, Apovian (2016) indicates that the prevalence of obesity in the US increased from 4% reported between 1999 and 2004, to 6% prevalence reported between 2011 and 2012. This change in prevalence is associated with lifestyle changes that might have occurred across the US hence triggering the spread of the condition. 

Wang et al. (2017), on the other hand, argue that ethnic differences influence the observed trends in obesity. According to the study, the genetic differences between whites, Hispanics and African Americans influenced the likelihood of an individual becoming obese. Specifically, the study indicated that African Americans reported the highest obesity prevalence at 36.1% closely followed by Latinos (33.6%) and Whites at 22%. The lowest prevalence was reported in Asian Americans who had a prevalence of just 9%. These observed disparities could be associated with sociocultural differences across the American races. The disparities observed are supportive of the general demographic constitution of the different states, with the southern states having large Latinos and African Americans hence explaining the high prevalence in obesity reported in the states. 

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In conclusion, obesity remains a critical health problem across the US. The condition is associated with the excessive deposition of fats in selected body organs and tissues, creating significant health risks to the patients. The trends in US indicate that some states have adopted strategic lifestyle changes such as intensive aerobic exercise hence resulting in decline in prevalence of obesity. On other states, however, large proportions of the population are still overweight and obesity hence creating significant health risks to the populations. Therefore, there is need for urgent interventions to contain the epidemic. 

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  1. Apovian, C. (2016). The obesity epidemic: understanding the disease and the treatment. NEJMe, 374 (2016), 177-179. 
  2. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). (2012). Diagnosed diabetes, age adjusted rate (per 100), adults. Retrieved from http://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/diabetes/DiabetesAtlas.html 
  3. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). (2013a). Percent of adults aged 18 years and older who are obese. Retrieved from: http://nccd.cdc.gov/NPAO_DTM/IndicatorSummary.aspx?category=28&indicator=29 
  4. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). (2013b). Percent of adults aged 18 years and older who are overweight. Retrieved from: http://nccd.cdc.gov/NPAO_DTM/IndicatorSummary.aspx?category=28&indicator=29 
  5. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). (2013c). Percent of adults who achieve at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (or an equivalent combination). Retrieved from: http://nccd.cdc.gov/NPAO_DTM/IndicatorSummary.aspx?category=71&indicator=32&year=2013&yearId=17 
  6. Flegal, K., Kruszon-Moran, D., Carroll, M., Fryar, C., Ogden, C. (2016) Trends in Obesity Among Adults in the United States, 2005 to 2014. JAMA, 315(21):2284–2291. http://doi:10.1001/jama.2016.6458 
  7. Wang, L., Southerland, J., Wang, K., Bailey, B., Alamian, A., Stevens, M., Wang, Y. (2017). Ethnic differences in risk factors for obesity among adults in California, the United States. Journal of Obesity, 2017 (2017), 2427483. 
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