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Studies have linked obesity to many things from ear infections, to pollution, to air-conditioning, to socializing with obese people. The reason Americans are obese is because of the increasing luxury available to them. Obesity is a rising problem in the United States, and with all the privileges given to its citizens, the country has become increasingly lazy. With portion sizes rising and physical activity decreasing, it is easy to see how obesity rates have skyrocketed.
Obesity is a huge problem that needs to be resolved because it affects all people, unlike most issues. People of every gender, every age, and every race are at risk of being obese. Obesity rates in America have nearly doubled within the last twenty years. Something must be done not only to prevent obesity rates continuous rising, but also to dramatically increase the percentage of obese people in America altogether.
The best way to begin a revolution in health in America is to start with the youth. The United States has the largest percentile of overweight children in the world. Approximately one-quarter of all four to five year olds and one-third of ten to eleven year olds are considered overweight. The obese children will more than likely become overweight parents. A child with an obese parent is ten percent more likely to raise obese children and thus the cycle continues (McBride, 2010). The more years that go on the higher the obesity rate climbs because the children are eating more and more and becoming less and less active.
Many would argue that children should not focus on their weight because children should lead a youth with little worries, yet obesity affects a child much more than people with that argument think. Being overweight can cause increased risks for several serious diseases and even can result in decreased mental health on account of low self-esteem and social discrimination. Children who are overweight also are at least twice as likely to have heart disease, diabetes, and orthopedic problems (Internicola, 2009). Sadly, children are being pressured into unhealthy lifestyles even more so than adults are.
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Children’s behavior is easily influenced and can be manipulated depending on their environment. If heath conscious people surround a child, the child will in turn grow to be well educated in how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The average student spends around seven hours a day in school. This makes it an extremely influential place for its students. Unfortunately, several school officials refuse to talk about the risks of obesity in fear of inspiring eating disorders and the fear and disgust of obese people after children know what can occur from being overweight. The problem with this is that there are so few children with eating disorders compared to obese adolescents that the fear of this is almost ridiculous. Also, if the instructor were to correctly define a healthy person than the children should be able to decipher that not eating is not healthy either. Proper instruction at school can result to a healthy style of living at all times.
Fitness classes are required at elementary schools but in higher grades than that the level of physical activity they get at school is small. The percentage of high school students who participate in physical education classes is down ten percent from the nineteen nineties (Rotondaro, 2010). Schools need to increase the amount of time they spend discussing living a healthy lifestyle.
There are several steps schools could take to ensure their students have all the knowledge needed to pursue a healthy life. The schools must drastically change the food available to their students. Teaching about health and then providing greasy, unhealthy foods will send a mixed message to the students. The meals provided to the students need to be well balanced and most importantly, not as processed. A cheese sandwich served on oat bread sounds simple, does it not? Miraculously, the ingredient list is over thirty ingredients long and even contains high-fructose corn syrup, which officials have promised to remove from students’ food (2010). Fitness programs are also in need of great improvement. Physical activity needs to be a daily part of the school day and the low intensity exercises most schools use does little for students. Schools need to step up the severity of the exercises they have students do. Each student needs to be involved in some type of fitness class during the school day.
School is not the only place a child spends their day though; a majority of time is spent at home. Children receive the most influence from their parents or guardians, and this means that for obesity rates to decline drastically, parents must also learn how to live and provide a healthy life for their families (Rivkin, 2006). Parents must endorse physical fitness to their children and incorporate it into their daily life styles. Children also need to be taught healthy eating habits and fed nutritious foods. The parents must not only teach both of these things, but the parents also need to live healthily also. If parents live any way they want and children are forced to live an active lifestyle the enforcement of this will backfire.
Obviously for the children to become healthier, adults will have to, also. Being overweight causes problems that kill over 400,000 a year (Menifield, 2008). Being obese also increases chances of breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease along with several other complications. The facts of obesity are surely spread out to the ends of the nation by now, so why are obesity rates still going up? Americans have become too lazy to go exercise and are also completely unaware what is in the food they consume. Something needs to be done to motivate and inspire people to live healthily.
When attempting to promote obesity awareness often only facts are provided. To affect a mass amount of people it is necessary to emotionally appeal to them. If parents become aware that their eating habits affect their children in massive ways then maybe they will be more willing to give up their McDonalds’ cheeseburger and go for a walk instead. Parents have a natural drive to provide only the best for their children, so appealing to this could produce better results.
People must be aware of what they are consuming if they ever want to become healthier. When families go out to eat, they rarely know every ingredient in the food they are consuming. Restaurant foods are usually packed with preservatives and unnecessary ingredients. That is why it is important for people to cook their food at home. Sometimes though, it is hard to resist going out to eat, and this is why some improvements must be made to America’s restaurants.
The food in restaurants, most of the time, is extremely unhealthy. The food is full on empty calories and on top of that the portion sizes are often much larger than the recommended amount (Newman, 2004). A law should be passed that requires restaurants to post the amount of calories and the proper serving size on the menu beside that item. This way people can be more aware of what they are putting in their mouths, and better decide what the best item for them to consume is. It is easy for anyone to avoid feeling guilty for what they are eating if the information is not in front of them, but if the information is right in front of their eyes there is no way of avoiding it.
Cities need to take extra measures to ensure that citizens are fully capable of living a healthy lifestyle. Some people need an extra push to begin living actively. A lot of times in modern America, if it is not easy, a person will not do it. This is why it is important that a community have plenty of places for its citizens to engage in physical activity (Larkin, 2003). Installing parks and walking trails around the town will help motivate people to get outside and exercise. Of course this would cost a lot of money, perhaps millions, but in the long term it would be a wise investment.
The biggest argument against lowering obesity rates would come from the fat acceptance activists. They believe that people should love their bodies and that people should eat anything they want (Grossman, 2003). The concept behind this is to prevent discrimination against those who are obese and help obese people cope with their obesity. The problem with this, of course, is that obesity does more than just hurt a person’s emotions. True, people should be accepted no matter what size, gender or race, but if they are overweight, they are in danger, and death is a more serious matter than feelings. That is why this argument can easily be overruled.
Being overweight is a problem that is continuously inflating. Something must be done in order to protect the citizens in America. With so many rights and privileges, it is a shame that people do not take advantage and take care of themselves. Work must be done to provide people with all the tools possible to make healthy decisions. Teaching students effectively could be the key to dramatically lowering the obesity rate in America, for the students of today will eventually be in charge or our country in the future. Obesity is not a disease that can be prevented, it is important to do everything possible to stop this unnecessary problem.
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