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Obesity as an Unhealthy Lifestyle and not a Disease

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For many years, obesity has dramatically increased in the United States affecting toddlers, children, teenagers, and adults. Obesity is drastically spreading and ruining the lives of many Americans today. In America, obesity is such a common problem. Obesity decreases the life of a person in many petrifying ways. Why do Americans indulge in harmful foods? Why is America the number one country to have overweight people? In what ways does obesity harm people’s productive lives? With much speculation, obesity has become an intriguing argument. What people don’t understand is that all the unhealthy foods and the scarce amount of physical activity are what’s ruining their lives. The problem of obesity can be reduced. It’s not an easy route for most people, but it can be achieved. A simple case of eating and buying healthier foods for both children and adults, light amounts of physical activity are what will bring people from feeling sorrowful to feeling ecstatic.

America is facing a crisis because of poor eating habits. Harmful foods are everywhere in the United States. They are found in homes, schools, stores, etc. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five school-age children has obesity. School is where children spend most of their time, and this is where the foundation for healthy habits lies. Harmful foods and snacks that are offered in schools hurt children’s physical and emotional states. Data collected in the journal “Junk Food in Schools and Childhood Obesity” by Ashlesha Datar and Nancy Nicosia shows that being overweight and obese in childhood are known to have a significant effect on both physical and emotional health. Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese when growing up and more likely to develop a variety of diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Childhood obesity can greatly affect children’s physical health, social, and emotional well-being, and self-esteem. It has also shown a negative impact on academic performance and a lower quality of life accomplished by the child. Many conditions like metabolic, cardiovascular, orthopedic, neurological, hepatic, pulmonary, and renal disorders are also seen in relationship with childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is one of the most significant health challenges of the 21st century. The problem is huge and is steadily affecting many countries. The issue keeps increasing at an alarming rate. Meals that are being served in schools currently include burgers, french fries, pizza, nachos, corn dogs, chicken nuggets, and not very fresh sandwiches. The United States Department of Agriculture suggests for adolescents to consume protein, carbohydrates, and fats from whole, healthy foods. A well-balanced diet based on the USDA guidelines should deliver adequate amounts of all the essential vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates, included in starches and sugars, get converted into the simple sugar glucose, which is the body’s main fuel. Not all carbs should be treated equally. When planning meals the focus is on complex-carbohydrate foods and go light on simple carbohydrates. Complex carbs supply a good amount of energy. Many starches carry fiber and an assortment of good nutrients too, which is a bonus. They are low in fat but truly feeling. Fat provides energy and assists the child’s body in absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K. The healthiest kind are monounsaturated fats, found in olives and olive oil; peanuts, peanut oil, and peanut butter, etc. What is being offered in schools contains mostly saturated fats, which contain cholesterol and can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. School lunches are also high in sodium, being made from processed foods. The journal “Junk Food in Schools and Childhood Obesity” reflects data on junk food purchases by fifth-graders, which shows 68 percent for sweets, 72 percent for salty snacks, and 70 percent for soda. The phrase from Thrive Market written by Steve Holt sounds frightful: “For the first time, today’s parents may live longer than their children because of unhealthy eating habits and the lifestyles of today’s youth”.

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A good reason why obesity occurs in the United States is that people are inactive. Inactivity is a big part of today’s society. Being physically active at least 30-60 minutes a day is very important when it comes to improving your entire health. Mayo Clinic states that an average person should aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, and at least twice a week of strength training. This means an average person needs to exercise about 20-30 minutes every day to be a healthier individual. An individual should set time in their daily schedule for physical exercise each day. Some examples of physical activity would be; brisk walking, swimming, mowing the lawn, etc. Some vigorous aerobic exercises would be running and aerobic dancing. People don’t understand that getting physically healthy will also benefit their mental health. Being mentally healthy will make the individual have a better and more productive life. People in the United States need to aim for better health. This will increase the production of the United States. A healthy United States will increase the mood of everyone living here and make the United States a happy and healthy place to live in. People think they don’t have the “time” to work out or are too “busy”. In reality, there is no need for a gym membership or spending any money. Home workouts are very beneficial and inexpensive. People need to take the time and get their heart rate up or break a sweat for at least an hour a day. According to the national institute of diabetes and digestive and kidney diseases, more than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese. Taking a BMI measurement is a good way to determine the level of being overweight. BMI stands for body mass index. Having a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight. BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. Having a BMI of 30 plus is listed as being obese, and a BMI of 40 plus is extreme obesity. Most of America’s population is in the overweight and obese BMI sections. This is a big problem and it’s only getting worse. Exercise is a must for these levels to go down at least a little. Remember, some exercise is better than no exercise. So get moving! The environment is a big factor in people being obese. This means that there might be a lot of cheap fast food places around someone’s neighborhood and no grocery stores in many miles of radius. Being stressed out can contribute to weight gain. The feeling of stress can make you feel you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Stress signals your body’s fight or flight response. In the old days, people had to run or fight when faced with stress or danger. Nowadays people are stuck behind a desk at work without a direct outlet for stress. Chronic stress can increase sugar and fat cravings and this is where people gain weight too. The fat cravings people feel when under stress are associated with diabetes and heart disease. Too many Americans aren’t dealing with stress; causing stress levels to go up which can be associated with obesity. Coping with stress can be reduced by doing meditation, tai chi, yoga, or deep breathing.

Healthy eating habits are even more important than exercise. The key to healthy eating is having calories in must be less than calories out. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really happen with the American diet being fatter every year. Food today is disgustingly delicious. To prove this fact, America has the blue “first prize” ribbon for the most obese country in the world. Fast food places are so cheap nowadays that the dollar menu has become so popular among the population. Meanwhile, vegetables and fruits are increasing in price every year. Healthy habits should be adopted in early childhood. American schools need to consider adopting healthier lunches. American schools serving lunches or having vending machines that are not healthy can lead to behavioral issues in kids as well. An experiment on the effects of food on behavior done by the British TV series, The Food Hospital, wrote in their article that “Party food loaded with sugar, artificial coloring, and other additives have the power to turn your lovely, cooperative child into a badly behaved, physically aggressive youngster.” This means that certain ingredients in food can really change the behavior of kids. One of those ingredients is artificial food coloring. More and more evidence is pointing to artificial food dyes as a major cause of ADHD in children. While this hasn’t been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, the facts are strong enough to convince many European countries to ban blue 1 (brilliant blue), blue 2 (indigo carmine), yellow 5 (tartrazine), and yellow 6 (sunset yellow) among others. These food colors have FDA approval and are found in cereal, candy, and a variety of colorful foods popular with children. The next harmful ingredient is sugar. There is sugar everywhere, and it is found in almost all foods. One 12 oz. can of coke has 9 ½ teaspoons of sugar. The same amount of Tropicana Farmstand Juice has 9 teaspoons. Flavored yogurts, colorful cereal, and chocolate milk are loaded with sugar. There is also a lot of sugar in ketchup, bread, sausages, and barbeque sauce. A child can consume a significant amount of sugar even before they are allowed to eat candy, and high sugar levels contribute to hyperactivity. The last unhealthy ingredient is sodium benzoate. Sodium benzoate is a preservative found in carbonated beverages and fruit juices, condiments, candies, and many other products. It has been implicated either separately or together with artificial colorings for causing or aggravating ADHD symptoms. A lot of eating goes on in homes as well. Parents giving their children unhealthy food, taking them out to eat, or giving them microwavable foods all can lead to dental and physical problems. Most kids growing up want to always eat sugary foods. 97% of parents in the U.S. think that childhood eating habits determine children’s health for their lifetime. But only 17% of the parents say that their child’s diet is healthy (Hall). This is a very small percentage of children eating healthy or having diets. That means 83% of other children are eating foods that are bad for their health. In the article, “Parents Struggle to Keep the Junk Food Out Of Little Mouths”, Kelly Hall states that, “It’s not easy to take kids to a grocery store and pick the right things. They always want the sugary things”. There were some concerns about why parents are not giving healthier food to their children. One of the concerns was that healthy food is too expensive, but in reality, meals prepared at home are cheaper than eating out. If fresh food is too costly, frozen or canned food is an option. They are cheaper and just as nutritious. To avoid excessive sugar or salt in canned food, products can be rinsed before eating. An additional concern is that the parents do not have time or knowledge. Some tips on this would be to plan, spend the weekend preparing meals for the upcoming week. Talk to the kids about what they want to eat. Vegetables can be pre-cut and put in containers so they are ready to cook upon return from work. Starting early helps. Introducing healthy foods to infants is a critical time that establishes children’s diet preference and it gets harder as they get older. Making a piece of fruit or a vegetable part of a child’s plate for all three meals a day is a great habit. The last concern was that the surveyed parent’s children being too picky. Some tips for the parents on this would be a hungry child will eat. They can decide on how much they eat, parents need to decide what is the best food for the children. Providing healthy foods to children will create better eating habits.

Most Americans don’t seem to be concerned with being fit and invest time into the healthiest habits. It’s scary to see the younger generation be so inactive. People really should think about preventing obesity for their own benefit and the benefit of our children. America can try harder for a healthier new generation. It only takes to reconsider better food choices and get moving.  

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