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Saidah Khan

Personal & Family Health

Term Paper: Obesity in America (Causes and Repercussions)

In order for someone to be classified as overweight, they must have a body mass index

(BMI) between 25 and 29.9. In order to be classified as obese, it would be a BMI of 30 or higher.

Being overweight and being obese are both dangerous conditions that are likely to lead to serious

health problems, however, severe clinical obesity like morbid or malignant obesity, carries greater

risks of morbidity and premature mortality than simply being overweight does.

In the 1980's, what a person weighed was essentially their own concern. However, this was

prior to the emergence of statistics which conveyed the startling fact that 65 percent of adult

Americans are overweight, and 17 percent of American children and teens are also overweight or


Obesity is definitely becoming a serious epidemic in the United States, and has many public

health implications. Whereas typically it is still considered unusual for people to suffer from heart

attacks at the age of 40, there is now widespread speculation that in the future, because of all of the

prevalent cardiovascular conditions, we are going to see 20-year-olds getting heart attacks. Clearly,

obesity is a major issue which now concerns a large portion of the American population and needs to

be dealt with at a public level.

Southern states including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas have among the

highest rates of obesity in the U.S. There are many different factors which are contributing to the

increasing percentage of obese individuals across the nation.

States with higher obesity rates show prevalence in hunger, food insecurity and

inaccessibility to healthy, safe food on a regular basis. Scientists are studying the relationship

between economic status and weight. Studies indicate that teenagers who do not live in areas which

are economically depressed show much lower rates of obesity than teenagers who are

living at or below the poverty line. There is also evidence that obesity may be more widespread

among Americans in areas where driving is a must due to urban sprawl, or in very rural parts of

America. Older adults living in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods also have an increased risk of

obesity, possibly due to fear caused by living in areas characterized by crime, disorder and neglect.

Other studies of environmental risk factors for obesity have also focused on measures of

food availability, such as the concentration of fast food restaurants or barriers to physical activity,

including the absence of sidewalks, parks and recreational facilities.

Also, residents of rural communities who feel isolated from recreational facilities, stores, churches

and schools are more likely to be obese than those who believe they are closer to facilities.

Personal behaviors, such as eating a high-fat diet or spending leisure time watching

television, are also related to obesity. Among the leading causes of obesity are lack of physical

activity, and of course, poor eating habits.

While a predisposition to obesity can be inherited, the fact that obesity has increased so much

in the last few decades appears to discount genetics as a major main cause. Also, the fact that each

succeeding generation is heavier than the last indicates that changes in our environment are playing

the key role.

Many Americans do not get nearly enough exercise as they should, and do not eat healthy



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(2010, 09). Obesity. Retrieved 09, 2010, from

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"Obesity." 09, 2010. Accessed 09, 2010.