The United States has faced many epidemics within its life time. The first epidemic Americans faced was in 1633. When European settlers arrived at current day United States they not only brought new technology and religions, they also brought smallpox. Smallpox was a virus with flu like symptoms such as fever, chills and rashes. Smallpox was easily transmitted because of the lack of hygiene and compromised immune systems. Small pox was especially infectious in Native American communities because they lacked the immunity to this European disease. The rapid rate of infection lead to seventy percent of the Native American population being infected and perishing (worst Outbreaks). In fact, Smallpox was the leading cause of death for Native Americans. Fast forward 300 years and the United States faced yet another deadly disease. The Influenza outbreak of 1918 was one of the deadliest pandemics not only in the United States but in the world.
Rhoughly 50 million people were killed and one-third of the global population was infected by influenza during this time (Influenza). The influenza outbreak was categorized into three sperate waves. The second wave during the Fall of 1918 killed the most Americans. At this time the United States lacked medical services because many of their health professionals were enlisted to aid in world war one. The lack of medical services in the United States left many people infected by influenza and no medical staff to treat them. Even president Woodrow Wilson contracted influenza while attending the treaty of Versailles. Fortunately, for world the third wave of influenza started during the winter of 1918 and the pandemic ended in the summer of 1919. In modern times, many viruses such as influenza and smallpox have been almost eradicated from American society. Advancements in the medical industry has decelerated the rate of infection for new diseases and new vaccines have eradicated old disease completely.
Since the 1970’s only an average of 6,000 people per year have had deaths related to influenza (Morbidity). In 1972 a large vaccine movement lead to the eradication of smallpox in the United States (Worst Outbreaks). Today there is a new disease that is infecting millions of Americans and it cannot be stopped by a vaccine. The origin of this disease derives from the consumer culture of the Untied States. American consumerism has put into act unhealthy consumer habits which are slowly killing millions of Americans. America’s high production, high consumption model in the food industry was created to produce mass quantities of food for the consumers and it is also designed so that consumers consume as much food as possible. An example of this high efficiency model is the fast food restaurant McDonalds. McDonalds operates its kitchen like Henry Ford’s very popular and efficient assembly line production method. McDonald workers repeat simple and tedious actions and pass down the unfinished product to another worker to add another ingredient to product and so on until the product is finished.
Workers are paid minimum wage and the company does not have to spend resources on training workers to have specialized skills. The products that come out of these fast food restaurants are highly efficient to create, but they do come with their drawbacks. Fast food contains large number of calories and with little to no essential vitamins or minerals. Their model is so efficient that McDonalds sells 75 burgers per second and their generated revenue equates to $27 billion dollars each year (Lubin). There is no doubt that fast food restaurants are highly profitable, but there is a down side to this profit. Forty four percent of millennials’ food budget is spent on eating out and baby boomers spend about forty percent (Talty). Americans are consuming large amounts of fast foods. This would not be a problem if fast food was not calorically dense with high amounts of statured fats. High amounts of fats can lead to very serious concerns.
American capitalism is highly prized value in the food industry. Consequently, it is negatively affecting the physical health of Americans. Obesity in the United States Obesity has been a stealthily growing disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that obesity is widespread among the United States, affecting over 39% of Americans. Although obesity is increasing at an alarming rate, many people are not worried about obesity. Americans are not aware of devasting effects that it can have because many of them do not believe it is a disease. A common misconception is that a disease must be caused by a person being exposed to an infectious microorganism, like smallpox and influenza. According to the World Health Organization, a disease is a ‘disturbance in the function of an organism’. Obesity can affect a person’s physical abilities because it can cause strokes, breathing problems, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers (Healthy Weight).
All these symptoms create complications that restrict the natural function of the human body. If left untreated it can cause serve altercations in the body that can eventually lead to the death the infected person. Obesity can be linked to six of the top ten causes of death in the United States which are, heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer, diabetes, and kidney disease. Obesity is not caused by a microorganism, but it is a disease, and it is spreading nationwide because of dangerous habits performed by Americas food industry. Not only does Obesity affect consumers on an individual level, it also has a huge impact on the economy. The medical cost to treat obesity has dramatically increased after the turn of the century. In 1995 the overall medical cost caused by obesity was $99.2 billion dollars (Wolf and Colditz). Thirteen years later the medical cost increased almost 50 percent to a staggering $147 billion dollars (Overweight).
The problem also becomes more complicated because many Americans do not have health insurance. Over 28 million Americans do not have health insurance (Us Census Bureau). This signifies that these Americans would choose not to seek medical attention because they will not be able to cover the medical costs, leaving their obesity untreated. American Capitalism has created some significant advancements in American society. Although, the lack of restraints American capitalism has is negatively affecting its consumers. American consumers are now facing a new disease and it is up to them to stop the spread of this disease. Americans must reform their culture and diet. Without any preventions today, the future of the United States will be riddled with health problems and economic adversities.
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