Obesity occurs when an individual has accumulated too many fats on his or her body to unrequired level. An individual is determined as an obese when the Body Mass Index has gone beyond 30. The BMI is an essential tool for measuring whether a person is overweight or obese. The two conditions are not the same. However, the former is a predecessor of the latter. Obesity is a chronic disease in the USA population and any solution to foster awareness to the general population valid (Boualaoui, 2015). Regardless of the challenges and problems that the country faces, the effort such as generation of laws and regulations, initiations of strategies and policies, and adoption of proper health care system to the whole population has been in place to eradicate the problem.
How does an individual know that is he/she is obese or overweight? Well, that is a question worth noting. When the BMI reads from 25 to 29.9, then an individual is considered as an obese. Obesity BMI, as stated earlier, occurs when BMI reads over 30. However, the measurement can be misleading in one way or the other because it does not calculate an individual’s body fats. An example exists in a scenario where a muscular man may have high body weight, but the fat is low. The concept of high body weight can be valid for unfit man. Therefore, it is noteworthy to denote all characteristics of obesity to avoid the confusion.
Obesity and Its Characteristics
According to WHO (n.d.), there are symptoms that an individual should be worried about when they epitomize concerning the obesity. The categorization of healthy weight system is herein provided as follows: Underweight has BMI below 18.5, and standard weight read from 18.5 to 24.9. The overweight read from 25.0 to 29.9, obese class I range from 30.0-34.9, obese class II from 35.0-39.9, and class III (extreme obesity ) reads from 40.0 and above.
The primary causes of obesity include eating too many calories and inactivity. The problem occurs when an individual intakes more calories than the one body can accommodate. It is through activity that the body can burn such calories. If a person cannot engage in physical activities, then a problem arises leading to overweight, then eventually obesity.
An automatic symptom is when BMI is over 30. Other signs are as listed below:
- Increased sweating
- Feeling of isolation
- Joint and back pains
- Feeling of tiredness
- Low self-esteem
- Lack of sleep
- Genetic factors. It affects the way body burns calories, fat distribution, and storage.
- Occurs when a woman cannot find a technique to reduce her weight after birth.
USA Statistical Overview
The most recent data concerning the prevalence rate of obesity in the USA is worrisome. Over one-third of the USA, adults are obese. The prevalence rate as per 2011-2014 data showed that middle-aged adults aged from 40 to 59 years were 40.2%, and older adults aged 60 years and above were 37%. When combined the prevalence rate among adults was much higher than in younger adults that recorded 32.3% by incidence rate as a measurement technique. The middles aged and older adults had no much significant incidence rate difference.
During the census period, women recorded much higher prevalence rate than men such as 38.3% and 34.3% respectively. The adults aged 20 to 29 and from 40 to 59, the obesity prevalence was much higher among female than male. When women from 60 years and male of the same age were compared, the variation was not significant.
The similarity in the pattern was realized on comparing the male by use of age difference. 40 to 59 years recorded 38.3% while 20 to 39 ha 30.3% prevalence rate. Women of age range from 40 to 59 had 42.1%, which was much higher than those of age range 20 to 39 years of age, who had a prevalence rate of 34.4%. The prevalence rates by differences of age and gender are at this moment summarized in the figure below.
While considering the adults aged 20 years and above, it is noteworthy to analyze the prevalence of individuals from 2 years to 19. The data provides significant insight into the prevalence in the youths. The prevalence among youth was recorded as 17%. There was low prevalence rate among preschool children aged from 2 to 5 years, which recorded prevalence rate of 8.9%. The children aged 6 to 11 years old recorded 17.5% while adolescents from age 12 to 19 recorded 20.5% (Ogden et al., 2014). It is noteworthy that the prevalence rate increase with age as the younger people have much lower incidence rate than adults. It can be attributed to the increment of laziness and poor lifestyle adoption as age increases. People tend to be inactive while staying lazy and not taking care of their body.
Obesity is costly to the USA government as a whole. Therefore, much has been spent to curb the disease. The disease is one among the chronic diseases in the country that is preventable. Currently, the estimate of the cost that government spends to help the chronic illness worth from $147 to $210 billion annually. The disease is linked to problems such as absenteeism at work, and as a result, firms accrue low productivity and additional cost worth $4.3 billion per year.
Regarding personal expenditure, adults spend more on healthcare, thus contributing to 42% as compared to healthy adults. Per capita morbidity, obese adults with BMI reading of 40 and above are 81% higher than healthy individuals. Interestingly, this is a disease that can be preventable at the time its prevalence is devastating in the country. It must take a personal level evaluation and efforts to help the government from wasting much money on what can be prevented. To address the issue, the federal state has come up with several policies over the years, as well as other community-based initiatives to eradicate prevalence rate and adopt appropriate healthy lifestyles.
The establishment of legal framework has helped in the curbing of most of the chronic diseases in the USA. It has provided the public healthcare workers necessary tool to curb the chronic disease and reduce the prevalence rate within the entire population. The Federal Communications Commission and state based legislations on the modes of advertising tobacco significantly reduced the rate of which the population used the drug. It altered people’s perception on the use of tobacco and its use greatly reduced across many states. The trend significantly reduced the rate of which youths used tobacco when the counter advertising technique came into existence.
Also, the four elements of CDC’s Public Health Law Program have impacted health sectors significantly in the country. They include understanding various laws in health sectors, competency development by authorities, identifying and disseminating data on health’s regulation best practices, and coordinating across jurisdictions, settings, and sectors.
The federal’s Farm Bill of 2008 had impacted much. The bill encouraged channeling of much money to the productions of food such as corn, vegetables, farmer’s promotion, food security, etc. (Gortmaker et al., 2011). The production of food such as vegetables and grains encouraged adoption of healthy lifestyles. It ensured that large population consumers are capable of retrieving much healthy food from vegetables at much lower prices. Also, the animals were able to be fed with the use of corn productions that were harvested from the field. Such practices increased the number of meat of productions in the country, thus a high rate of consumption within the population. Also, the inexpensive sweetener and food syrups reduced the rate of which people have been using soft drinks. The strategy works since the use of soft drinks reduces the rate at which people intake calories into their body system. The soft drinks contribute up to 14% of total calories intake.
The Transportation Bill has also improved the rate of physical activity in the population. SAFETEA-LU has also contributed immensely to the physical activity, especially a portion that contains metropolitan transportation plan (U.S. Health Policy Gateway, n.d.). It addresses all issues that are linked to the transportation modes within the town. Therefore, encouragement of public mode of transportation has improved the rate of physical activity among the population. People tend to walk from their homes to the public transportation top; thus exercising while walking. It is believed walking helps burn calories and it is a good form training. Also, people walk from workplaces to the public transportation place where they board a bus to transit one home. In the bill, there is support for the use of bicycle from home to the workplace. It has many youths adopt the use of bicycles as they transit from home to school and vice-versa.
Still on the Federal Communications Commissions, while enforcing their Fairness Doctrine in 2007, they encouraged the child based marketing. It received much back up then after it was initiated. The child-based advertisements improved significantly. It discouraged adverts to the children about the sweetened drinks such as beverages, sugar cereals, candy, etc.
At the state levels, some laws discourage obesity and being overweight. The laws are initiated to work within the local and state level. Therefore, legal procedures are in place to curb the problem by offering lessons to its people concerning obesity. In 2008, California passed a law that calorie contents of food offering restaurants to be labeled on the menu boards of the state’s chain restaurant.
Texas, Mississippi states are not left out regarding the eradication of obesity. Just to mention but a few, California, New York, Florida, etc. have enacted legislations within their school programs that enhance physical activities within their school curricula. For example, Mississippi endorsed Healthy Students Act in the year 2007. The law is geared towards encouraging the rate of physical activities within the school so as to reduce obesity among the children.
California on the hand adopted a law that almost eradicated the use of buses that take children to school. The law initiated that all the lanes within the town were to have sidewalks and bicycles paths so that the children can use the same to ride to school (Chriqui et al., 2012). The law is reportedly thriving in the town. The law provision also mandates that all the cities and county within the state adopt sustainable and healthy communities. Also, with the use of policy toolkit and Public Health Law, the city of Richmond has adopted a plan that includes eight consensus objectives to make sure that there are enough playgrounds, parks, and open spaces to encourage physical activities within the city.
Arkansas enacted Act 1220 that offered significant provisions. Within the bill, all the children were mandated to check their BMI, access to the vending machines was restricted for school going children, and forced schools to report on the revenues accrued by the school (Steinman et al., 2010). Also, the soft drink producing companies were mandated to report on the income collected to the state as well as their expenditures. Therefore, not only the federal is trying to solve the obesity menace, the state level governance has been o the forefront to help address the problem of obesity within the population.
The Legal Preparedness for Obesity Prevention and Control (National Summit) has set up four key areas and six target parts. They include the community, school, workplace, and medical care system. Also, they have included social issues on environmental and policy upon which various initiatives could be based. The efforts target include increasing the use of vegetables, fruits, time spent on televisions, increasing physical activity, physical activities, and reducing sweetened beverage food stuff. The summit move has impacted the population immensely.
Other initiatives that are nationally based include “Let’s Move” campaign that was initiated by Michelle Obama in 2010 (Obama, 2012). The primary reason behind the campaign was to bring awareness to the population that obesity is a chronic disease and people should take the necessary steps to eradicate the problem. Most significantly, the campaign stressed on the children. The provisions of the campaign entailed better food delivery in school, adoption of physical activities within the schools. Also, the initiative was to promote healthy food across communities at much lower prices.
To back up the obesity eradication, the Congress passed a bill in the same year, 2010, on the obesity that channeled the substantial amount of money towards obesity solution. Within the law, the stress is put on the precise amount of calorie count on the offered foods within the restaurants across states (Tucker et al., 2011). The mandate has been put to stress on the calorie labels on the restaurants, menu boards, and drive-through menus. The vending machines were not excluded on the calorie quantity. FDA was to help in enforcing the provisions by checking on the restaurants. The strategy has paid off in most instances.
Maine 5-2-1-0 initiative program is one of the most successful community-based initiatives that has contributed immensely to the issue of obesity across Maine and neighboring states (Rogers et al., 2013). The main aim being eradicating obesity among the children while encouraging physical activities. The breakdown of 5-2-1-0 had it that 5 represent the use of fruits and vegetables for at least five times in a day while eliminating the use of fruit juices at 100%. Letter 2 accounts for the duration to which a child should be allowed access to TV in a day. It would encourage physical activities and discourage excessive watching of television. Letter 1 represents the least amount of time in hours to which every child should be exposed to physical activities per day, and lastly, 0 represents complete avoidance of fruit drinks, sugary drinks, sodas, and any drink with sugar content.
Much has been done by various organizations that stress on the available initiatives to curb the obesity nightmare. Such firms include Obesity Action Coalition (OAC). It has national perspective since it has members spread all over the USA. They provide education, advocacy, and support to the members. Interestingly, it is a non-profit based organization and gets fund from well-wishers within the country and beyond. It sources its members through websites and campaigns whereby affected people are encouraged to join so as to experience improved health outcome. Other organizations with the same motive entail American Obesity Association (AOA), which bases its mission on the perception of the community. People tend to link obesity condition to the state of being lazy and idle. However, they believe it is not true, therefore, asserting their argument that obesity is one serious disease that affects Citizens immensely. Obesity Medicine Association (OMA), on the other hand, is an organization consisting of health professionals and a variety of physicians with the aim of treating, and preventing obesity in the USA. They believe in four scientific pillars such as activity, nutrition, behavior, and medication as the sure way of eliminating obesity within the population.
People have faced problems in the USA concerning eradicating the disease at a personal level. People face challenges such as economic problems, a people with a high number of others depending on him or her, lack of time to do physical activity, and incapability to adopt healthy eating styles. Economic problems mean that an individual does not have sufficient amount of money to foster her or his life and health issues. As a result, adopting appropriate prevention skills or living require lifestyle become an issue, thus difficult to combat a disease (Wang et al., 2011). The Economic problem can also bring the issue of adopting the poor lifestyle. People may complain of fixed schedule, especially adults, who rank highest concerning prevalence rate. The reasons may be attributed to parenting fixtures, job, and any other money seeking activities. Such problems may influence the rate at which obesity may increase within the population at the individual level.
Other issues include lack of knowledge. There are communities that associate obesity with laziness and not by health condition. An obese, in this context, is humiliated and as a result, one loses significant self-esteem. Thus, the person may lose interest to seek healthcare services. Therefore, an education and campaign should be in place to let the population know that it is a medical condition and not self-making or anything of that sort. Therefore, community, individuals, and health care centers should step up the efforts to help end the vice within the societies.
Obesity is one of leading silent killer chronic disease today in the USA. Its features are eminent, and individuals should be in a position to realize the same before it advances to a stage that it cannot be helped. The cynical notion that is put on affected individuals is out of topic and people should consider it as a condition.
The government has strategized greatly to help solve the obesity menace. Also, initiatives such as 5-2-1-0 in Maine, Mitchell Obama’s “Let’s Go” efforts have impacted positively in eradicating the disease. Also, the government has created laws and regulations that help solve the nightmare. Other organizations such as OMA, AOA, and OAC have emerged forefront to help the community address the obesity menace within the population.
Conclusively, the obesity epidemic has grown immensely in the USA and every initiative, laws, etc. should be enforced forefront to curb the problem. The good news is it is a preventable disease. The only lacking strategy is to let the population know about the problem and adopt the right channel of prevention mechanism. Noteworthy, the social aspect of the society can be a great healer towards the disease.
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