About 40 percent of American adults are obese. Let that sink in for a little bit. Ready for some even worse news? It's not just adults. Today's children are being hit hard by this epidemic. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 10 preschoolers is considered obese, as well as one in five for those ages 6 to 11 and 12 to 19. This puts America at a whopping 70 percent obesity total overall. This extremely unhealthy culture needs to change before our loved ones start dying off left and right.
Let's start with how obesity can affect our body and mind. For adults, being obese means that the body mass index (BMI) is above 30. This can lead to simpler symptoms such as shortness of breath, increased snoring, back pain, fatigue and some trouble walking. However, there are some much more severe consequences of obesity. To name a few: heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, more severe back problems and even some types of cancer. There have also been links to self-esteem problems and depression. This is understandable, for the healthier the body, the happier the mind. The worst side effect of them all, though? Premature death.
There are many factors that lead to obesity. Unfortunately, genetics is included, but there are ways to counteract it. Other factors such as overeating, the frequency of eating, poor sleep habits, medications such as antidepressants and physical inactivity are major contributors. In my opinion, the food that Americans are offered is one of the largest components. Americans are "busy" people, but also have a tendency to get a little lazy. Portion sizes and nutrition information seem to have stopped mattering to many people. So, when they drive past numerous fast food locations on their way home or while out running errands, they almost feel as if they are obliged to stop. They go through the drive-thru, of course, and order a calorie-packed burger and some grease-soaked French fries, and I can't forget about the large pop to wash it down. This meal's calorie count is almost equivalent to a single person's total maximum intake for a day.
I guess we could also blame the epidemic on the high price of healthy eating, which is outrageous. For some in our country, all they really can afford is that burger and fries. Unhealthy eating may appear to be a hundred times cheaper than a healthy diet, and this is a real problem. When I do a lap around a grocery store, one thing really sticks out to me: you can get a candy bar for a measly dollar, but a small box of strawberries is close to five. For someone who loves healthy food as much as I do but is also on a college budget, this is absurd.
Even though the price of healthy eating is high, the price of medical care is extremely expensive. Obese Americans are spending a lot on medicine for the many drugs that they need due to their disease. Weight-related medical bills make up around $190 billion a year for the American healthcare system. They are also dishing out bucks for production costs, transportation, and human capital costs. Many Americans are already financially unstable, so this high spending rate can only be bad news for our country.
So, America, let's get out of the house and get active, say no to the greasy fast food, get some sleep and start taking better care of our bodies and minds. It's up to us to take control of our own health. The obesity rate in our country is climbing dangerously fast, and we need to stop it from getting any higher.