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Obesity Today

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Obesity increased from 19.8 percent to 20.9 percent of American adults between 2000 and 2001. More than 44 million Americans are considered obese, reflecting a 74 percent increase in the past decade. The JAMA study showed that prevalence of obesity varied widely among states. Mississippi had the highest obesity rate (26 percent), and Colorado had the lowest (14 percent). The study found significant associations between overweight, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma and arthritis. Compared to adults with healthy weight or a body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9, those with a BMI of 40 or higher had an increased risk of being diagnosed with those health conditions. BMI is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of her or his height in meters. While Obesity is problem that cuts across gender, racial and ethnic divisions, the study found that blacks had the highest rate of obesity (31 percent).

It is found from the studies that green tea is very effective in reducing weight. It sounds to be good news for people suffering from obesity. (Taylor, 1998)

Another big problem with obesity is the cost. In the USA, the direct cost, that is hospital expenses, was $US51.6 billion, which is 5.7% of the health budget. The indirect costs were $47.6 billion. Overweight and obesity-related illnesses cost this country $117 billion annually. And, health care costs are increasing again at double digit rates in part due to obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. What are some things public health must do to reverse this trend? (Wickelgren, p. 1364)

First, the future is a blur to Americans. We live for today and don't fully understand or value investing in our future health and quality of life. For example, similar to how we don't save and live on borrowed money to enjoy the material pleasures of life today; Americans are living dangerously and enjoying the immediate pleasures of eating and sedentary living. Being surrounded by opportunities to eat tempts the willpower of people to limit consumption. The endless choice of TV programs and allure of the Internet today draw people away from getting regular physical activity. (Hill & Peters, p. 1371-2)

Second, Americans live a life of contradictions. We drink diet soda because it has no calories; yet consume it with a huge bag of potato chips or large piece of chocolate cake, both of which are loaded with calories and fat. Infomercials that pitch celebrity-endorsed exercise programs and the latest exercise equipment fill the airwaves. Yet, we often only go so far as purchasing these products and trying them out for a few short weeks at most. The funding for physical education has essentially been eliminated in schools. This makes the offer of revenue from vending machine sales of soda and snack foods in schools too attractive to refuse. Soda's contribution to obesity among children has become a secondary consideration. (Hill & Peters, p. 1371-2)




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