The High Cost of Obesity

The High Cost of Obesity

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Today, as values of living continue to boost, weight increase and obesity are posing a rising threat to certain well-beings in countries all over the world. Obesity, now confirmed as a nationwide endemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is likely to get worse and amplify over time. “The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts there will be 2.3 billion overweight adults in the world by 2015 and more than 700 million of them will be obese” (Obesity: in Statistics, 2008, 2nd Statement). It is definite that most kids are inclined to eat junk food, and it is certain that most kids will become overweight as adults. About 15% of children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years are overweight, which is an increase of 4% from the 1988-1994 NHANES study” (Chatterjee, Blakely, & Barton, 2005, p. 24). Statistics of obese persons in the United States alone are also greater in certain cultural and ethnic minority groups, especially African American and Hispanics.
“Between 1986 and 1998, incidences of being overweight increased significantly among African American children by 21.5% and for Hispanic children by 21.8%. That is nearly almost ¼ of the population! Among all low-income children, the prevalence of being overweight was found to be highest among Latino children by (12%) followed by Asian-Pacific Islander (9.6%), African American (7.8%) and Whites (7.1%)” (Chatterjee, Blakely, &Barton, 2005, p. 24,)
“The total cost of obesity by some estimates is $100 billion annually. Others estimated the cost of health care for obesity alone is $70 billion” (Wellman, Friedberg, S705, 2002). Obesity and its economic costs stand on three levels. First, obesity can hurt a person financially, with doctor visits, and such. Secondly, obesity can cut into the costs of businesses (presuming the overweight are working, but they may not be, due to their state), due to lost efficiency. There is about 40 million workdays of productivity lost among overweight individuals. Other issues include non-attendance, underachievement, and raised insurance payments. (Wellman, Friedberg, 2002, p.705) Furthermore, being overweight has an effect on expenses by neighboring, state, and nationwide governments. Obesity is my topic of interest because as a future elementary teacher, I want to raise awareness of the consequences that obesity may have among children. I hope to teach all children the importance of eating healthy so that they can become happy, healthy adults.
Obesity is a huge problem that is strongly influenced by the sociological factors such media and the American culture.

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Obesity among children (from grades K-12) is increasing as well as becoming a significant health problem even in the Long Beach Unified School District. In 2003, the Hispanic population became the largest minority group in the United States and it has grown considerably in recent years. The Latino population is acquiring social and behavioral acculturation from the United States. One of the most obvious changes in their transition of residence to a new culture is their change in diet. Evidence suggests that the Mexican American diet became less healthy in the United States compared to their diets in Mexico. According to the article Perspectives on Obesity and Barriers to Control from Workers at a Community Center Serving Low-Income Hispanic Children and Families, researchers asked why fast food was more preferred compared to their traditional foods, and one factor was that they did not have time to make a wholesome meal. Another factor was that fast food was a personal choice. The media plays a huge role in the rising costs of obesity in forms of TV commercials using celebrities, billboard advertisements, etc. Fast foods are readily available to consumers of all ages. There are countless fast-foods restaurants located throughout the nation that have meals specifically targeted for kids. For instance, McDonald’s have the happy meals that many kids want because it usually comes with a free toy that they are very familiar with. In our class lecture we discussed “McDonaldization,” which includes four components: efficiency, calculability, uniformity/predictability and control through automation. In terms of efficiency, McDonald companies are able to provide meals to consumers faster and quicker than individuals preparing meals at home. Fast food restaurants believe that sales is more important than taste, in addition, they also want consumers to believe that they are getting a large about of food for not a lot of money. This is evident in their “Big Value Menu” or “Dollar Menu.” Uniformity and predictability refers to no matter which McDonald’s a person goes to, he/she will get the same service and product. Lastly, control refers to the uniform of employees and heavy dependence on technology. This principle of “McDonaldization” is dominating the society and the rest of the world. Harmful effects can include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. These conditions cause premature death and substantial disability.
The prevalence of the obese in Hispanic girls was compared to Caucasian girls. Among boys, the prevalence of obesity was considerably superior along with Hispanics than Caucasian boys. Amongst adults, there were similar differences, which are presented between the groups. About 30% of Caucasian adults were overweight, and 36.8% of Mexican American adults were overweight (Center for Disease Control, 2010). Since these statistics are so high for Hispanic children, there could be many contributing factors to these numbers. It could partially have to do with genetics, parents praising children with food, oversized portions, lack of physical exercise and because of neighboring safety concerns.
With the incidence and prevalence of obese people come social consequences. Emotional pain may be amongst the most excruciating aspects of the obese. American culture stresses physical appearance and frequently associates beauty with being slim, particularly for women. These consequences may be overwhelming to the obese. Various people believe that overweight people are believed to be overeaters, inactive or both, even though this may not be the case. As it turns out, obese persons frequently deal with discrimination at work, school, and in social establishments. Feelings of being rejected, humiliation, or sadness are widespread throughout society. “A 1991 study found that 100% of formerly severely obese patients preferred to be deaf, dyslexic, diabetic, have heart disease or bad acne than to be obese again. Also, 91.5% preferred to be a normal weight person than a severely obese multimillionaire” (Wellman, & Friedberg, 2002, p.706). However, the good news is that obesity is highly preventable, and there are many solutions to this problem.
Therefore, such solutions include nutrition, exercise, and behavioral intervention such as We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) which is a national campaign designed to get guardians and family members to join in on fun exercises for their kids and incorporate healthy eating habits, and outdoor activities besides watching television Such an intervention, combined with community-based organizations, are essential in improving nutritional choices, increasing physical activity, and decreasing sedentary activity which will help control and offset the ongoing problem of overweight and obesity. Community based organizations (CBO) are notorious for implementing certain activities for obese children. Since Hispanic children are so closely connected to their families these Community based organizations are able to intervene on futuristic eating behaviors (Chaterjee, Blakely, & Barton, 2005). These community based organizations can have a significant influence on childhood lifestyles, including healthy dietary and exercise habits. Interventions such as community centers can provide health education programs that encourage education regarding nutrition and after school-activities that promote healthier lifestyles.
An example of a type of intervention is a culturally appropriate family-centered education program for obesity control and the help in providing appropriate training of the community center workers. Families can learn together because parents’ attitudes and practices are vital for the adoption of healthy eating and exercise habits by children (Chaterjee, Blakely, Barton, 2005). For example, limiting cookies, chips, sodas, and other high calorie/low nutrient foods and substituting them for healthier vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will help control calorie intake and still meet high nutrient needs. Another example is limiting sedentary behaviors such as watching television. Therefore, community center workers can offer inexpensive and cost-effective methods for training and guiding parents. I believe that parents and the community can have a positive influence on the lifestyle that children follow.
In all, obesity among the young Hispanic population is of great concern. It is shocking how we as a society are reaching an era in which children will no longer outlive their parents. Both culture and media have contributed to the growing problem of obese children. Although healthcare providers have stated that they try to educate and inform their overweight patients about proper nutrition and physical obesity, they often fail to motivate both the children and parents, because behavior is hard to change. That’s why perhaps certain software kiosk programs can help. By obese children in-putting their information on a touch screen program, doctors can see where they are at and where they should be nutrition and physically fit wise (Chatterjee, Blakely, & Barton, 2005). As Chatterjee, Blakely, and Barton stated, obesity in childhood often leads to adult obesity. For this reason, it is important for a community, such as the City of Long Beach, to be involved in teaching young children on the benefits of adopting a healthier lifestyle. Making such a change does not only depend on the healthcare workers and other professionals, it is also important that all members of a community and parent guardians get involved.

Works Cited

1.Center for Disease Control. Obesity Still a Major Problem (2007). Retrieved Feb. 7, 2010
from CDC website:

2.Chatterjee PHD, Nilesh; Blakely PhD, Debra; Barton MS, DrPH Casey (2005). Perspectives on Obesity and Barriers to Control from Workers at a Community Center Serving Low-Income Hispanic Children and Families. Retrieved Feb 3, 2010 from ebscohost, Journal of Community Health Nursing Website:

3.Runge, C. Ford (2010). Economic Consequences of the Obese. Retrieved Feb. 5, 2010 from Journal of American Diabetes Association Website:

4.Wellman, and Frideberg (2002). Causes and consequences of adult obesity: health, social and economic impacts in the United States. Retrieved Feb. 8, 2010 from National Policy and Resource Center on Nutrition and Ageing, College of Health and Urban Affairs S705-S709 from

5.World Health Organization (2000). Obesity: Preventing and Managing the Global Epidemic. Retrieved Feb 5, 2010 from WHO library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data. Website:

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