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No matter where you go, you're likely to encounter someone who is obese.Everyone is familiar with the "big" kid or the man withthe bulging waistline - because they are everywhere.
These peoplephysically and emotionally endure strenuous, even painful, lives. (Think aboutthe last time you made a fat joke, or at least laughed at one.) Obese people aremuch more likely to suffer from depression, diabetes and infertility. Thealarming truth is that obesity is on the rise in the United States. University ofColorado's James Hill, leading author of a study in Science, says that if obesityis left unchecked almost all Americans will be overweight within a fewgenerations. "Becoming obese," he claims, "is a normal response tothe American environment."
It is estimated that 26 percent - that'smore than one fourth - of Americans over the age of 20, and 14 percent ofchildren and adolescents, are obese (obesity.org). Obesity has become an Americanepidemic, but why? The increase can be attributed to socio-economics, the rise offast-food corporations, as well as values generally considered to beAmerican.
To get a grasp of the problem we need to understand obesity andwhy it is so dangerous. Obesity is when a person's body mass index (BMI) is atleast 20% over the average expected for someone of their size. A BMI of 25-29.9is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese. It has been said that some 4million Americans' BMI is over 100%, making them morbidly obese. These numbersare higher than ever, and still rising.
The effects of obesity on aperson's physical health is what makes it such a horrible condition. The list ofdiseases and disorders associated with or derived from obesity numbers a-round30, which is what makes obesity one of the most dangerous epidemics in America.It is the country's second leading cause of preventable death.
Obesity hasincreased worldwide, but why is it such an American problem? First, take intoaccount the socio-economic stance of our people. From one angle, Americancitizens appear to have more money than many in other na-tions. The standard ofliving is higher than ever, which means most people have plenty of mo-ney tospend on food. The surplus of food in our country, along with our standard ofliving, encourages Americans to eat in excess. Our concern is not whether therewill be anything to eat as opposed to what to eat.
Though obesityaffects people in every part of the country and at every economic level, themajority of obese people have lower incomes. If you're wondering why, the answeris the All-American fast-food diet. The twentieth century saw the rise offast-food chains, and a terrible new dietary trend. Fast food provides a cheapmeal that attracts both busy and cash-strapped customers. People are spendingmore and more time away from home and often need a quick, cheap meal on the go.With the convenience of fast food, they've found their meal of choice. Theincrease in fast-food restaurants directly correlates with the rising rate ofobesity. The obesity rate among men has doubled since the early 1960s, theinitial boom of the fast-food industry.
Besides the proximity andconvenience of fast-food, the fat content also makes it a major culprit in thefattening of the population. Bur-gers and fries are loaded with calories andsaturated fat that make for an unhealthy diet if eaten regularly.
Not only is the food super fatty, but chains pride themselves on the size oftheir portions. By offering incentives to buy larger portions, there is more foodconsumption and thus more fat digested. To put it in perspective, a diet of 2,000calories per day allows you 65 grams of total fat. McDonald's Super Size Frenchfries contain 610 calories and 29 grams of fat, a Big Mac has 590 calories and 34grams of fat, and a Super Size soda has 410 calories. That one meal contains1,610 calories and 63 grams of fat. Wow!
Our culture is also a factor inwhy so many people are obese. Americans strive for conven-ience, the moreconvenient things are, the better. With the Internet, almost anything isconveniently available with a press of a button. This has brought about areliance on other ways to take care of things we would normally do ourselves. Nowwe are less apt to do physical activity and more likely to sit around. Thesetrends point to the likelihood that there is no end in sight toobesity.
Look around, and soon you'll realize that obesity is everywhere.The rate among Ameri-cans is at epidemic proportions, and one reason is America'sstatus as a fast-food nation. Obesity reaches all sectors of society and poses athreat to the health of men, women and children alike.
Maryland Heights, MO