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Obesity in the United States

Jul 16th 2015 at 1:43 AM

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions! We see or hear these words everyday in magazines, newspapers and on the television, but what is being done to combat the problem? One campaign aimed at reducing obesity in American children, resurrected and revamped from an old project, and led by Mrs Obama, is the ‘Move to Schools Project’; whereby professional chefs and schools are urged to work in partnership to provide healthy meals and food to children at school. Such initiative on Mrs Obama’s part has all likelihood of making some inroads into America’s child obesity problem but it should not be left to people like her to do something about the issue. Every parent of every American child is responsible for the health and well being of their child so they need to be actively inculcating and encouraging a momentum towards a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits within and outside the home.

Doctors, scientists and health promoters expound advice telling us that although obesity can sometimes be caused by physiological factors, such as genetics, hormonal problems or slow metabolism, it is more commonly caused by poor diet. We are told that obesity is the result of eating more calories than necessary and indulging in a diet high in saturated fats and sugars, or leading an inactive life, or both; it increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and strokes, as well as other emotional and psychological problems. Without doubt however, obesity is growing rapidly in the United States in adults and children.

The First Lady’s Move to Schools campaign is a step in the right direction, and the “project is a small piece of the big picture” but the problem of obesity is multifaceted and the solution cannot rest on government campaigns, Acts or Legislations; the problem requires cooperation and action from everybody, including schools, health providers, food industries and most importantly the American public themselves. Governments and other stakeholders can advise, promote and assist in promoting healthy lifestyles but the reality is that it is up to the individual to make choices and it is up to the parents to make the right choices for their children.

Obesity may be caused by wrong diet but we also need to consider other factors that impact on the issue; factors like the environment which in itself promotes a more sedentary lifestyle than in the past with more public transport options, more convenience stores, inadequate security in parks, unsafe walking areas and poor maintenance of footpaths. Economic factors play a role in obesity too in terms of insufficient money to pay for most indoor activity centers and gyms, having to opt for quantity rather than quality when buying food, and for cheaper and less nutritious foods rather than fresh fruit and vegetables that tend to be more expensive.

Although technology has created a faster lifestyle it has also induced an existence that is inactive; office workers spend most of their day at a desk with little or no opportunity to move around; children, after spending the day at their school desk, go home to spend the remainder of the day and evening sitting at their computers playing computer games and surfing the internet, or watching television; at home more labor saving devices have lessened the need for physical house duties.

The media also plays a major role in the cause of obesity, especially in the way of advertising which is overwhelming and ever embracing in all aspects of life. Much of this advertising is for unhealthy foods and most of it is aimed at children in a way that entices them to become part of a surreal world of happy kids eating food that makes them happy. The McDonald’s world chant is a case in point; it depicts a global party with millions of happy kids chanting a happy song that is difficult not to sing along with, all eating happy food; in other words it depicts life as fun with no consideration of a child’s health but is focused on making the dollar.

An increasing number of informed people, including the government are asking for measures to combat obesity, and while Mrs Obama in her quest to eliminate unhealthy food in schools is encouraging schools, chefs, businesses, companies and philanthropists to work together, it is fundamentally up to the individual American to deal with the issue by adopting a healthier lifestyle in the home in terms of diet and activity, and inducing that healthy lifestyle on their children by example.

Source: Student Share

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