28 Feb Make America Thin Again: Overcoming the Country’s Obesity Epidemic
Obesity is a condition where one is grossly overweight. To be diagnosed as obese, a patient would need to have a particular Body Mass Index (BMI) that exceeds the height and weight limitations. Typically, a person is obese when their BMI is 30.0 or higher. Use our BMI calculator to find out your BMI.
The classifications of obesity extend beyond that. If a person’s BMI is 30 to 35, they are Class I. Class II consists of those with a BMI ranging from 35 to 40, and Class III is 40 or higher. Anyone categorized Class III is considered extremely obese.
Obesity is a growing concern in the United States, and with more individuals reaching the unhealthy BMI range or borderline obese, awareness and action are needed.
Obesity in the United States is Astronomical
Obesity in children and adults is on the rise. It is considered an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as private health professionals. Children are more frequently diagnosed as obese today, and the diseases associated with severe obesity are those that could significantly shorten a person’s lifespan.
There have been some theories as to why the obesity epidemic is continuing despite public awareness campaigns.
Theories Behind the Obesity Epidemic in the United States
- Genetics: Some have thought that obesity may be due to genetics, but experts feel genes are not the answer. A person will naturally have a genetic predisposition to a particular body type. However, that does not mean the body type leads to obesity.
- Physical Activity: Physical activity shifts due to lifestyles. Today, people are not getting the same amount of physical activity that previous generations did, which accounts for the rising numbers of younger children becoming obese.
- Eating Habits: Eating habits are also a reason for the increase in obesity diagnoses each year. Recommendations for healthy eating are taken over by the advertisements for junk food, sweets, and snacks. Also, there is the issue of portion sizes, with fast food chains and individual manufacturers increasing the average portion size well beyond what is needed.
The Costs of Obesity
Obesity is the primary reason for preventable chronic diseases and costs among children and adults, says the State of Obesity. Estimates for these costs assume $147 billion to as much as $210 billion per year.
Also, obesity accounts for missed days at work, which affects businesses, causing lower productivity and costing them approximately $4.3 billion per year.
Some Staggering Cost Statistics
- Higher Emergency Room Costs: Those who are obese will spend 28 to 41 percent more on emergency room costs for chest pains compared to those with a healthy weight.
- Higher Overall Health Costs: For those who are severely obese or morbidly obese, they are 81 percent more likely to have higher medical costs.
- Insurance Premiums for Employers: Employers who offer life insurance for their employees will pay higher premiums and pay out more for those who are obese than those who are not.
- Lower Wages: Those who are obese are less likely to have a high household income, and they have lower wages overall.
- Higher Individual Healthcare Costs: Those who are obese will spend 42 percent more on healthcare than those who are at a healthy weight.
The Further Health Complications of Obesity
Obesity is not cosmetic. By being obese, a person is at higher risk of developing severe chronic conditions. Some of these chronic diseases could become life-threatening, especially if the patient’s weight does not get back into control.
Obesity-related conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease, are the leading causes of preventable death in the United States.
Per the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are several health risks to obesity.
- Coronary Artery Disease
When a person’s BMI rises, they increase their risk of coronary artery disease. Eventually, this leads to excessive plaque buildup in the arteries, which reduces blood flow to the heart. Eventually, the heart could fail as a result.
The more plaque buildup in one’s arteries, the more likely that plaque will rupture and form a blood clot. When the clot is too close to the brain, it may lead to stroke.
- Type 2 Diabetes
One of the most common health complications associated with obesity is Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 involves a glucose level that is too high, and with Type 2 diabetes, a person’s cells are not using insulin as they should.
- High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the amount and force of blood pushing against arterial walls. When blood pressure remains high for too long, several organs experience damage.
Those who are severely overweight or obese are at high risk for high blood pressure.
Tackling the Obesity Epidemic
To help the population fight obesity, communities need to educate their residents. Schools need to work on healthier lunch programs and health education that focus on the importance of proper eating and activity each day.
Also, those who are overweight or diagnosed as obese do have options. From weight loss surgery to specialized diet programs, they can get back in control of their bodies and overall health.