An Exploration Of Obesity In The United States

An Exploration Of Obesity In The United States

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An Exploration of Obesity in the United States

When you hear the word fat, what do you think of? Do you think of the white matter on your steak, or perhaps blubber on a whale? Or do you kind of get a disgusting image of a morbidly obese person, struggling to move their bodies, or even breathe? With the United States deemed the fattest country in the nation, I took it upon myself to try and find out some reasons behind that.
The first thing that I wanted to find out is how much of the United States population is considered obese and what actually qualifies as obese. According to Statistics from, in 2004, 15-19 % of the population in 7 states was at least 30 pounds over weight; 20-24% in 33 states, in 9 states had 25% or more. These statistics scare me because so many people are obese. Instead of disease killing people in Africa, fat and cholesterol is killing people in America.
Along with that, statistics from, an obesity society, states that you are considered obese if you have a BMI over 30. People are considered overweight if their BMI is between 25 and 30. BMI, or body mass index, is the most commonly used tool by health professionals. It measures your height to weight ratio, and then determines if you are obese or not. What concerns me about using a person's BMI to determine whether or not they are overweight or obese, is that the BMI does not take into count how much muscle mass a person has. So if a person has a lot of muscle mass, and because muscle weighs more than fat, the person can be considered overweight or obese according to BMI measures. For some people, such as those whom are active, a BMI is probably not the way you want to measure your fat.
After I found out a few statistics about the United States being obese, and how it is measured, I started to wonder why America is so fat. It can't all be genetics, so what is causing all of this super-sizing of our citizens? The answer may be too simple. We, as a nation, are just getting lazier and lazier. It is a well known fact among Americans that if you eat more calories than you can burn throughout the day, then you are going to store that energy, most likely as fat.

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Another reason for our fatness could be partially due to genetics and metabolism. According to, genetics and metabolism may explain up to 25-40% of body weight. So almost half of what a person weighs could be determined by genetics and how their bodies burn calories for energy.
Not only are we not burning off the energy from the food we eat, we are eating more and more food. Americans have added 200 calories per day in 2003 than in 1993 ( That is an increase of 10% of what most of us need to just maintain weight. Along with adding food to our plates, increasing portion sizes, we are just being sedentary. Society almost seems to support such behavior. T.V shows keep you in suspense so you don't want to leave and miss out on the story. Commercials use famous people to promote their product which is pretty deadly if you ask me because who doesn't like someone whom is famous? Video games are "in" these days, and that supports being sedentary. What happened to people getting out and going for bike rides, or rollerblading? For most people, that would be too much work.
After satisfying my need to find out why we are so fat, I wondered what could happen to us for doing so. What diseases are associated with obesity and how many people die of these diseases annually? According to, not only are there many diseases associated with obesity, but obesity itself can be determined a disease. If you are obese, you are 3 times likely to have diabetes. Cardiovascular disease is associated with obesity, along with sleep apnea, gout, varicose veins ( veins that are close to the skin so you can see them through your skin), gall bladder disease, liver malfunction, and something I have never heard of which is pretty scary, pickwickian syndrome. Pickwickian syndrome is an airway blockage linked with sudden death. So being obese and suddenly kill you, motivation enough.
Women have an extra risk factor. Excess estrogen has been linked to reproductive system cancer. Fat tissue is a major site of estrogen synthesis in women, and scientists say that BMI 28 to 30 has an increase of this type of cancer. So not only do girls have the pressure to be skinny like models, they have an extra chance of getting cancer than men do.
According to the New York Times, 400,000 deaths were caused from poor diets and physical inactivity, second to smoking caused deaths that had a total of 435,000. This fact just amazed me. I had no clue how many people died from obesity related diseases. Everyone in the city of Moscow, the town that I am from, would have to die 12 times. That is very scary to me
Doing all of this research has really helped me out a lot. Because I am going to be a personal trainer, I have to help people lose weight and eat right. Although I know quite a bit about nutrition and how your body stores fat and such, I never knew about all of the diseases and the mortality rate of obesity. I knew that America is the fattest country in the world, but I didn't know we were this fat. Doing all of this research makes me want to walk to school every day, never drive my car. It also makes me think that maybe people aren't very educated about what they are eating. Maybe somehow find a way to make nutritional values easier for people to attain, such as what they are eating from McDonalds or Jack in the Box. Not everyone can have that perfect 6 pack abs, you aren't going to get skinnier than what your genes will allow you to. But we need to realize that having a 6 pack isn't everything, and that life is more important so exercise for life rather than a 6 pack.

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