Obesity: Causes, Solutions & Societal Views Bonnie Siddoway Dr. Holloway English 2010 2/9/2011 Siddoway 2 Adult Obesity: Causes, Solutions and Societal Views Introduction Walking up stairs, even a few, is difficult. At 5 feet 7 inches, 245 lbs, Anne is considered obese. Small tasks such as tying shoes can be difficult. Bending over makes it is difficult to breathe; t there are the clothes. At size 22, the clothes are frumpy and tent like. Reaching to scratch her back is difficult. She‟s just too big to reach. There is also is the feeling of being judged, or condemned, such as the silent stares of the clerk when buying candy or ice cream. This triggers the need for more eating. Perhaps it is genetics; definitely emotional eating, and lifestyle factors that have contributed to Anne‟s obesity. Obesity is a cause for concern. Obesity is linked to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, gall stones, breathing problems such as sleep apnea, certain cancers, and complications during surgery. The Director of the CDC Division of Nutrition stated:“Obesity is a serious and costly and affects virtually every system in the adult body.” (Hellmich par 4). Not only are there serious health risks to obesity, but the quality of life declines. Obesity stresses the heart, the muscles, and the bones. Heart disease is caused by a build-up of plaque in the arteries. Plaque comes from fat and cholesterol. The artery and blood vessel diameter is decreased; this reduces the blood flow to the heart which can result in a heart attack. The larger body puts additional stress on the heart. The heart must work harder to pump blood through the larger body. This can lead to heart failure where the heart is Siddoway 3 unable to pump the volume of blood required by the body. As the heart works harder with narrower blood vessels, the pressure of the blood increases. Over time high blood pressure can damage the body. Overweight and obese individuals are more likely to have joint replacements. The extra weight causes the joints to break down. Excessive weight makes breathing difficult, especially during sleep. There is an increased risk for hospitalization and a longer hospital stay. Diabetes is another concern associated with obesity. Cases of type II diabetes are rising because of the high number of obese individuals. BMI is used to determine obesity. The BMI is the body mass index. It is determined by weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. BMI does not take into consideration frame size. A BMI of 27.3 for women and 27.8 for men is considered overweight according to the National Center for Health Statistics. (Mintle par 4.) A BMI of 30 is considered obese. Just 30 lbs overweight is considered obese. Many people do not even know they are obese. BMI Classification In the last few decades, the percentage of < 18.5 Underweight obese and overweight individuals has 18.5 – 24.9 Normal 25.0 – 29.9 Overweight increased drastically. Currently 34% of 30.0 – 39.9 Obese Americans are considered obese. (Hellmich >40.0 Morbidly Obese par 4). The highest obesity rates are located in the South. In the West, 24% of the population is considered obese. (Hellmich par 9). As figure on the next page shows, obesity rates have increased from 17% in 2005 to 33% in 2009. Siddoway 4 Causes of Obesity When a person eats, the food supplies energy in the form of calories. A calorie is a unit of energy. As a person moves, exercise, sleeps, even breathes, energy is consumed. Ideally, the energy going into the system will roughly equal the energy used throughout the day. Basically, this is calories. A calorie is the amount of energy that will raise one gram of water one degree Celsius. A food calorie equals 1,000 heat calories. A person losing weight is striving for a deficit caloric intake. When more calories are expended throughout the day than consumed, there is a deficit. Overtime, a deficit will lead to weight loss. A greater consumption of calories and low usage can lead to becoming overweight or obese. Many people live an inactive lifestyle. A person who has a desk job, with hours in front of a computer, who then comes home to watch television lives an inactive lifestyle. Cars transport us Siddoway 5 everywhere with little opportunity for exercise. Cities are built for driving not walking. In fact, obesity and overweight have been linked to viewing more than 2 hours of television a day. (“Overweight” par 3). An inactive lifestyle can easily lead to weight gain, being overweight, and obese. Eating more calories than the body requires will lead to weight gain. Genes can play a part in obesity. Chances of being overweight are greater if one or both parents are overweight. This may be because the overweight parents model poor eating habits. However, studies show that although genetics play a role, minimal exercise can counteract the genes that contribute to obesity. (Wilbert par 2). Oversized portions are a problem as well. Fast food chains, restaurants, and movie theaters all serve enormous portions of fatty, unhealthy food. Our busy lifestyles make it easy to turn to convenience food. Other factors causing obesity are emotional eating, medications that cause weight gain, and medical conditions that cause weight gain. Dr. Allan Chernov states, “Obesity within the United States occurs through an increased caloric intake and decreased physical activity.” He further states that other factors such as “metabolic conditions” can increase obesity, but they do not directly CAUSE obesity. (Chernov 2). Societal Perceptions of Obesity Obesity individuals are often viewed as incompetent, indulgent, lazy, uncontrolled, and weak- willed. (Chernov 2, Mintle par 2). Social stigmatization of obesity is derived from the societal value on the “ideal body” type. In Chernov‟s paper, “Children as young as 6 describe silhouettes of Siddoway 6 the obese child as „lazy‟, „dirty‟ or „stupid‟. Children and adults rate the obese child as the least likable.” Obese individuals are less likely to get service than a thin person (Chernov 2). Treatment The simplest treatment for obesity is to put less energy into the body and use more energy. In “Adult Obesity Management” the experts recommend the following: reducing fat intake, reducing caloric intake, exercise 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week. (Srikugan 2) A 10% loss of body weight can have signifcant results. It can cut in half the risk of diabetes. (Srikugan 2) There are other treatments available such as medications and bariatric surgery. Surgery is recommended only for patients with a BMI exceeding 40%. However, surgery will not change the reason a person eats. It will only change the physical size of the stomach. An individual should first address the behavior and habits causing the obseity. Surgery should only be used as a last resort. (Golden par 3) Conclusions Obesity is an epidemic in America and the rest of the world. It can lead to other problems, such as diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, gall stones, sleep apnea and some types of cancer. It is caused by an imbalance of energy; too much energy in and too little energy used. The lifestyle of Americans contributes to the obesity epidemic. Our lifestyles are not suited to exercise. Cities are not set up for pedestrians. Telvesion viewing and computer useage encourage an inactive lifestyle. Society‟s idea of a thin person can lead to hard perceptions of obese people. While the Siddoway 7 treatment of obesity seems simple: less energy in, more energy used, it can be difficult. More understanding and tolerance is needed. Siddoway 8 Works Cited Arnst, Catherine. “Adult Obesity Rates Rise in 37 States.” BusinessWeekOnline. 20 Aug 2008. Web. 5 Feb 2011. Chernov, Andrea E. “Weight Discrimination: The Effects of Obesity on Employment.” HOHONU. 4.1 (2006): 1-10. Web. 5 Feb 2011. Golden, Heather. “Why Weight Loss Surgery Should be a Last Resort.” Examiner. 5 Dec 2010. Web. 5 Feb 2011. Hellmich, Nanci. “More states 9 to 3 have 30% obesity rate.” USA Today. Microsoft, 8/4/2010. Web. 6 Feb 2011. Michaels, Jillian. Master your Metabolism. New York: Crown, 2009. Print. Mintle, Linda. “The Social Stigma of Obesity.” Dr Linda Mittle. N.P., 7 Jun 2010. Web. 5 Feb 2011. “Overweight and Obesity.” NHLBI.NIH.gov. November 2010. Web. 2 Feb 2011. Srikugan, L. and A. Loganayagam. “Adult obesity management: who, when and how to treat.”Update 75:2 (2007): 23-26. Web. 5 Feb 2011. Tribole, Evelyn, and Resch, Elyse. Intuitive Eating. New York: St. Martin‟s Grififn, 2003. Print. Wilbert, Caroline “Exercise can overcome Obesity Gene.” WebMD. N.P. 8 Sep 2008. 2 Feb 2001.