It seems obesity is becoming more and more of a problem in the United States. Is it the food? Is it people’s habits? It could be both, but in some cases, it might not be either.
As fortune.com shared a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “More than 70 percent of Americans are now either obese or overweight by this measure. However, the statistics are particularly worrying. Almost 40 percent of adults are obese. The childhood obesity rate, for ages 6-19, has increased to 2 percent.”
This situation is worrisome as fortune.com adds in their article, “Childhood obesity is linked to increased mortality rates in adulthood, and obesity can lead to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.”
A big reason for this could be the fact that many people in the US are struggling to even get by. With this being said, healthy food is often times more expensive than “junk” food or fast food, it is hard for people to turn down the chance to save money by just taking the unhealthier option.
For example, even when talking about something simple like grapes. We can see grapes are $2.98 per pound at Walmart. Meanwhile, you can get 2 cheeseburgers at McDonald’s for $2.
Even with a comparison as simple as this, we can see that this has to be one of the issues. However, this is not necessarily a good excuse all the time as people could be healthier by just cooking at home.
According to thesimpledollar.com, “At an average cost of $12.75 per meal, you’d save yourself $8.75 for each of those meals. In other words, the average American would save $36.75 per person per week by moving all of their meals from restaurants to home-prepared meals.”
With these people would avoid the highly processed foods and would be able to prepare them in a way in which it’s at least not to a fast food level of unhealthy.
But it is understandable why some people may not have the time to cook food as many people in America are working multiple jobs just to make ends meet as mentioned before.
As fortune.com included in their article, “Frank Hu from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health told NBC News, There’s still a huge amount of cheap, accessible, highly processed food available everywhere [at] almost any time,” he said. “And despite people doing more recreational activity these days, the overall activity level, household activity, and occupational activity have decreased in recent years.”
The organization of Public Health breaks it down as they try to tackle this issue. On their website publichealth.org, they include research they have performed to get to the bottom of this.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American ate almost 20 percent more calories in the year 2000 than they did in 1983, thanks, in part, to a boom in meat consumption. Today, each American puts away an average of 195 pounds of meat every year, compared to just 138 pounds in the 1950s. Consumption of added fats also shot up by around two thirds over the same period, and grain consumption rose 45 percent since 1970.”
So the problem is in fact that people are probably eating more than they should. But it’s not the case for everyone and it isn’t the only part of the issue.
As publichealth.org adds, “Research published by the World Health Organization found that a rise in fast food sales correlated to a rise in body mass index, and Americans are notorious for their fast-food consumption ― such food makes up about 11 percent of the average American diet. Another study demonstrates the full effect added sugars from soda and energy drinks are wreaking havoc on American waistlines. So it is not just how much we eat, but what we eat.”
Basically, this just adds to what was discussed above about the unhealthier option generally being cheaper than the healthier option or in other cases people just not having the time to cook.
But what we eat and how much we eat isn’t the only problem. Another study showed that Americans are just not getting enough exercise and are too inactive.
As it says on publichealth.org, “According to one study, only 20 percent of today’s jobs require at least moderate physical activity, as opposed to 50 percent of jobs in 1960. Other research suggests Americans burn 120 to 140 fewer calories a day than they did 50 years ago. Add this to the higher amount of calories we are packing in, and we get a perfect recipe for weight gain.”
This does make a lot of sense as today with all the technological advancements, machines have replaced a lot of the physical labor tasks humans had to otherwise do before. In a sense making it easier on people but also taking jobs away and making people lazier.
We go back to the question though. Who does this effect?
According to publichealth.org, “In general, however, the poor are more likely to be overweight or obese than the rich. Again, nobody is certain why, but studies suggest lower-income individuals consume higher amounts of calories through fast foods and sodas that are high in sugar, fat, and calories. Quite simply, in the United States today, eating healthy food can cost more than eating junk.”
So once again it all ends up going back to what was discussed above, people with lower income levels are more likely to turn to the cheaper option because it makes sense.
The consequences are obviously health issues down the line if people don’t decide to make a change. According to publichealth.org, “being overweight can cause diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, reproduction, respiratory disease, cognitive health, and musculoskeletal disorders.”
With all of these statistics, it is obvious that obesity is becoming an increasingly serious problem in America. But there is hope of turning things around.