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The Ongoing Problem of Obesity in America

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The Ongoing Problem of Obesity in America

Obesity is mainly a health problem characterized by an excess amount of body fat, which has accumulated over time to a point of implicating negative effects on the health situation of the victim. Indeed, this condition leads to a fateful reduction in life expectancy besides other health complications. Essentially, for an individual to be considered obese, the measure of body mass index must be in excess of 30 kg/m2. Essentially, the condition of obesity raises the prospects of contraction of other health-related complications, in particular, heart disorders, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and obstructive sleep apnea among other major infections. The main causes of obesity are excess intakes of food energy, dormancy, characterized by little physical activity, as well as genetic susceptibility. However, few incidences of obesity are caused by primary elements of genes, psychiatric ailments, and endocrine infections among others. Despite the fact that obese victims may have increased body weight despite low intake of food as a result of low metabolic rates is, however, rarely sparingly supported by the empirical evidence. As a matter of fact, obese victims are accustomed to high energy use relative to their thin counterparts. This condition is, perhaps, due to the high energy supply needed in maintaining increased body mass.

Analysis

In America, obesity has been indicated as a major health problem that has tended to denature the health conditions of the people in the country. Indeed, though obesity is a major issue in developed nations, cases of obese prevalence are indicated as one of the highest rates globally. To date, obesity has been on the rising trend in the US. As a matter of fact, there are various reasons attributed to the high rate of obesity growth in the United States. Among them, there are financial issues and fitness problems. Consequently, most of the obese victims have health complications as well. Among the main treatment and preventive mechanisms, there are physical activities, as well as dietary measures. Indeed, those people partaking in regular exercise, as well as healthy eating habits, also feel personal gains in the reduction of incidences of obesity problems.

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The Role of Food Companies in Obesity Reduction

Ideally, the food industries are among the key partners in the fight against obesity problems in the US. In particular, most food corporations have pronounced policies with regard to corporate responsibility in the reduction of obesity cases. For instance, the McDonald’s company has announced its move to empower its clients, and the public in general, towards making informed decisions in the move to maintain an effective balance with respect to intake of energy and subsequent expenditure. On the other hand, Coca Cola asserts that it has established an extensive broad-based nutritional and physical education, which focuses on a large number of populations including the least athletic learners. Similarly, Pepsi Co. also claims that it can play a significant role in assisting children in leading healthier lives through the production of healthy product varieties in schools. Indeed, Pepsi states that such achievement could be addressed by introducing products and programs that appeal to the kids besides promoting healthy and active lives. According to the company’s top management, the moves to help kids and their respective families in making healthy lifestyles and food choices besides motivating them to into the various physical activities is one and most critical intervention that the company has sought to give back to the society. In this regard, the food industry has been a major partner in the campaign against obesity problem in the US.

However, it has been a critical notice that food industries in the US have also participated in the dark side of alleviating obesity in the country. For instance, the food corporations in the US have been at the forefront of providing food susceptible to causing obesity in the country, particularly with respect to school nutrition. In this regard, food companies have been found to attempted lobby stridently against proposed policies toward improving health among children through healthy feeding habits particularly in schools. Furthermore, companies have been attributable to making misleading statements regarding policy contributions and provisions in government meetings, particularly focusing on the provisions pertaining to the role of food companies in addressing obesity. On the contrary, the food companies have been accused of establishing pre-empt public promises with regard to corporate responsibility, which barely sounds good and admirable towards healthy lifestyles. However, in practice, these claims are barely public relations exercises. Indeed, the World Health Organization refers to the promise and practice of the food companies in the US as documentation of systematic discrepancies. However, despite these claims, McDonald’s Company continued its use of trans fats in the manufacture of cooking oils. This situation led to the company’s forcible determination of the payment of settlement costs attributable to the deceptive advertisements. Indeed, the company was accused of marketing harmful food products, especially for children. In light of the above, unhealthy food materials are perhaps some of the causes of increased obesity incidences among children in the US.

Further study indicates that other food companies in the US are engaged intensively in the sales of unhealthy food products, which are attributed to rising incidences of obesity. This move comes despite the pledges by food companies to stem the campaigns towards the reduction of childhood obesity through the production of healthy food products, as announced in huge fanfare in 2003. However, the extensive activities carried out by the industry’s sponsored team called Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is quite appraisable. Indeed, the group has a yearly budget in excess of $3 million. Consequently, it has been engaged in an extensive lobby against the campaigns related to public campaigns, as well as legislations thereon, which regulate the sale of junk food items to the children fraternity. The information outlay by the Center for Media and Democracy indicates that the CCF funding is undertaken mainly by the disguised donations from the major companies such as Tyson Foods, Wendy, and Coca Cola, as well as Cargill among others. These contributions enable the inducted support for unsavory lobby group activities besides increasing responsible corporate citizenry.

Besides the in-built mechanisms made by the companies to address the obesity problem, there are other external forces that seek to address the issue in the sense that self-regulations are highly hampered by a multivariate factor. For instance, the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) was constituted in 2008, with a view to implementing the direct provision of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) call in formulating some stringent global public commitments with respect to healthy food. In particular, these commitments focus on raising consumer awareness, food reformulations, and responsible marketing among others. Indeed, the commitments are undersigned by the CEOs of food companies worldwide, particularly, multinational corporations. These companies include Grupo Bimbo, Ferrero, Mars, Kraft Foods, and Coca Cola among others. In this move, the companies are held directly accountable for providing healthy food products by the WHO. The importance of IFBA intervention is the advanced reach and subsequent reach by the companies’ business. In particular, about 10 multinational corporations are entitled to account for 80% of the world advertisement expenditure on the food products, as well as the entire beverage industry. This represents the scale dictated by the IFBA. With respect to reaching, the multinational companies are extensively represented with more than 200 countries of participation. The implication of this intervention is a significant attempt by each stakeholder in intervening in the reduction of unhealthy food production on a global scale. These mitigation plans have particular impacts on the world’s high susceptible regions with respect to obesity challenges among other lifestyle diseases.

Furthermore, there have been practical interventions by leading governments in addressing obesity challenges in the US. For instance, the first lady of the US, Michelle Obama, has also instituted an obesity initiative dubbed, “Let’s Move”, which aims at eliminating obesity problems in the current generation, a move that would also cut down on the rampancy of obesity in the future generations. With respect to the first lady’s intervention, most beverage companies in the US proclaimed their move to enhance calorie labeling on food products, as far as visibility is concerned. Indeed, this move is a complementary intervention to the ongoing efforts by food and beverage corporations in the US towards restricting the sales of food products with high contents of sugar, salt, as well as fat, especially in United State schools. For instance, the American Beverage Association (ABA) colluded with Alliance for Healthier Generation (AHG) in 2006, in providing healthy guidelines towards school beverage products. These moves sought to stem obesity challenges among other lifestyle infections in the US. Following these initiatives, the subsequent delivery of full-calorie drinks to the US schools was reduced by approximately 95%. Indeed, the guidelines towards healthy diet initiatives in the US have been executed globally by both Coca Cola and PepsiCo companies, as well as by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group.

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The Role of Politics in Reducing Obesity Challenges

There has been a growing concern regarding the escalating rates of obesity in the US. Although the US has been characterized by individualism and self-reliance, the government officials have had a prolonged custom towards regulating the ostensible private sector. However, unlike most health concerns in the US, obesity has been claimed to rise more vehemently from the private sector’s behavior in producing health insensitive products; particularly, food and drinks. In the US, by virtue of its culture of individualism, the regulation of the private sector is perceived to have off-limit to federal interventions. According to Russell Robert, a professor at Washington University, individual eating habits do not at any point justify the government’s intervention in food preparation.

However, it is clear that the political fronts have not been forcibly involved in the extensive growth of obesity in the US, which has been categorized as a major epidemic. Congress, White House, as well as other Bureaucratic agencies, however, have been involved in the debate on the recent accounts of obesity epidemics in the US. Both public policy officials and the doctors have announced the raging concern on the obesity problem in the country. Studies indicate that about one-third of the total American population of adults are said to be obese. On the other hand, about one-third of the global population are said to be overweight. Furthermore, the rates of childhood obesity have been indicted to have tripled on account of the numbers as of 1970. Obesity has been instigating human costs, such as morbidity and discrimination. Indeed, the issue has been claiming about $150 billion in terms of medical costs in the US every year. As a result, it has become a major concern in the political arena as well.

In particular, the concern on obesity incidences has been extensively inducted. In New York City, the public and government initiated the prospects to ban sugar-laden drinks. Indeed, this illegalization of sugar-laden obese products met a huge private sector’s disregard. Essentially, the American private sector has been quite powerful and often accustomed to rent-seeking. Ideally, these bans were lifted by one of the US magistrates in New York City. Indeed, both beverage and other industries colluded through political influence towards declining the rule, terming it arbitrary, while focusing on the specific sweet beverages only, as well as on the certain market segments only. This has indicated the high ambiguity in the move by manufacturers and overall industrial players in enhancing the health conditions of the people.

While much of the blame may be laid on the people’s lack of exercise, poor parenting styles, and overeating habits, the US has generally been overlooking the main contributors to the increased obesity prevalence. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been providing the dietary guidelines, which have been greatly overlooked. Basically, the USDA guidelines have been termed as the best standards in healthy eating habits by the experts. However, these regulations are promoting low-fat consumption with calorie-restriction to diets on such grains as rice and bread products, which contain carbohydrates. An increase in blood sugar causes the body to produce a high amount of insulin hormone, which converts most of the sugar into fats. Consequently, these fats are transported to the fat cells for storage, a condition that further heightens the prospects of obesity in the regions. Consequently, the political intervention has not been sufficient in addressing the regulation of private sector behaviors towards producing healthy food products and reducing the obese fatalities in the US.

The Roles of Parents and Schools in Controlling Obesity in the US

Parents are important pillars in the development of the home environment, which is responsible for healthy eating, as well as physical activities for children. Parents also shape the child’s dietary practice, activities, and sedentary behaviors. The prior knowledge of nutrition by the parents, as well as their influence on food selection for their children, is quite essential in the management of childhood obesity worldwide. In the US, parents can play a significant role in reducing incidences of childhood obesity in the sense that such incidences account for significant costs of treatment, which could have otherwise been prevented. Ideally, lifestyle solutions, such as a reduction in the intake of high-calorie food items, lead to a situation of the decreased obesity problem in the US. Parents control the type and amount of food taken by children at home, while at the same time dictating the kind of activities that children engage in.

Essentially, about 95% of all young generation in the US is enrolled in the institutions of learning. This figure implies that a considerable amount of time is spent in schools, colleges, universities or similar establishments. While at school, children also eat food items, as appertains to the school feeding programs. However, childhood obesity in the US remains extremely high ranging between 16-17% on children aged between 2 and 19 years, as of the health survey between 2003 and 2004. However, there are some ranging tensions produced by food manufacturers and civil society. Consequently, a considerable decline in childhood obesity on children aged between 2 and 5 years has been noticed as per the records of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in the US. Essentially, there has been an alarming increase in childhood obesity in America. In particular, due to the huge time spent in school by the young generations, children eating habits in schools are crucial to the reduction in childhood obesity in the US. A considerable number of schools have participated in expanding programs aimed at preventing childhood obesity.

In particular, school programs have been proven effective in preventing obesity for the young generations, which further results in a considerable decline in obesity challenges. According to the 2003 survey by Children’s Lifestyle and School-Performance Study (CLASS) regarding the 5th-grade learners, parents, as well as school principals, in America revealed the effective role of school programs in controlling obesity prevalence. Ideally, the study outcomes indicated that obesity prevalence was particularly high in schools that had not enrolled in Annapolis Valley Health Promoting Schools Project (AVHPSP). Essentially, students from the schools with AVHPSP are consuming food items with numerous fruits and vegetable products, good qualities of diet, and minimizing the intake of fats. Furthermore, the latter groups also account for a significant level of engagement in the various physical activities, a move that enhances the health situation of the group besides preventing incidences of obesity. However, schools that do not participate in AVHPSP programs were noted to have food programs, which are health insensitive. Consequently, the prevalence of obesity in these schools was relatively high, as compared to the schools with such programs. In this regard, schools have a pivotal role in addressing the prevalence of obesity in the US.

Essentially, school-based healthy physical activity programs, as well as eating habits, create significant opportunity towards enhancing both the present and the future health situation of children, since such programs can reach virtually all children in the US. Furthermore, health programs also enhance learning prospects besides providing other social benefits. In addition, the programs also provide healthy living in critical growth and maturation periods. Physical activities and healthy living as a practical engagement in US schools also reduce the risks of contracting chronic infections during adulthood. Furthermore, it helps children to identify with a healthy lifestyle early in school, a habit that is essential for healthy living in adulthood as well.

The Obesity Prevalence in the US (Statistics)

In the US, the rates of obesity are becoming an increasing problem over many years. According to the findings from the office of Minority Health, between 1980 and 2008, obesity prevalence in the country among American adults has increased more than twice. On the other hand, the rate of obesity prevalence in children has tripled over the same period. In particular, childhood obesity increased from 5% to 17%. Indeed, the incidences of obesity and overweight are closely linked with mortality rates besides the high risks of heart infections and certain types of cancer. Indeed, about 70% of the youth population in the US falls at risk of contracting obesity in adulthood.

Further statistics indicate that the number of African American Women in 2011 had an 80% possibility of contracting obese relative to their Non-Hispanic white female population. On the other hand, Native Hawaiian has a 30% possibility of contracting obesity relative to their Asian American population. Between 2009 and 2010, the obesity possibility of contraction rate for Mexican American Children was 60% more than their non-Hispanic White children. Similarly, the American Indians were 60% likely to be obese relative to their Non-Hispanic whites’ counterparts.

There have been diverse changes in obesity prevalence in the US. In particular, obesity prevalence in the US since 1960 among men has increased in double proportion. In particular, the rates have increased from 13.4% to 35.7% among the adults in the US. The prevalence of obesity has, however, remained stable between 1999 and 2010 with a slight increase over the period among men, as well as both black and Mexican American women. The obesity prevalence in both children and adolescents has also increased marginally between 1980 and 1990. However, it remained stable for a period of time at the level of 19% as of the current obesity rate in the US. Finally, despite the rising levels of awareness in America concerning healthy leaving, a good proportion of Americans have been found out to blame high obese prevalence on cheap fast foods, which have increasingly raised the national fat epidemic. According to the research by the Center for Public Affairs Research, the majority of the people, however, also asserts that the policy frameworks as a way of enhancing healthy eating towards limiting food choices. Indeed, obesity has been a major health challenge in the US.

 

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