Around 160 million Americans are obese or overweight according to IHME. More specifically, around 75% of males and 60% of women are considered to be too heavy. This has been a huge issue in U.S. health wise because obesity is the leading cause of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. It is also putting a strain on health care costs because How Obesity Affects America says that anywhere from 147 to 210 billion healthcare dollars go toward obesity-related treatments each year. Yes, this is a huge issue that needs to be discussed and resolved but it cannot be fixed unless we look at obesity from a different perspective. Until we stop blaming people individually for being overweight and look at how our society is formed around unhealthy eating, can we truly make a difference?
What many U.S. citizens fail to realize is that our society has set up a perfect environment for becoming obese quickly and easily. In fact, Why Is There an Obesity Epidemic? claims that "Food is more plentiful and convenient than ever before." This is because instead of hunting and gathering we want to go to grocery stores, and now, all we have to do is press a button on our phone and food is brought instantly to us. It isn't just the food industry that has contributed to weight gain, but everything else in our lives as well. We drive instead of walk, shop online instead of going to stores, and move around a lot less with everything else offered virtually. This has decreased the amount of exercise and thought that goes into our daily lives and makes us lazier day by day. With the increase of convenient technological innovations and the decrease in the physical activity required throughout our daily lives, it is causing people to predict that around 75% of U.S. citizens will be obese by 2020.
Another reason why many people tend to be overweight is that they cannot afford or do not have access to healthy and nutritious food. According to Fast Food and Obesity- The Cause and Effect Relationship, the two main reasons that people eat fast food so much are because it is very cheap and the restaurants containing it are in very common, convenient locations. The National Post says that it costs roughly an additional $2,000 a year in your grocery budget for an average family (two parents and two children) to eat a healthy diet. This may not sound like much for some but for those of us who receive a small salary while still working hard have a difficult time splurging on organic snacks and fresh vegetables.
Others actually can afford to spend the extra $1.20 a day but they live in food deserts, meaning their neighborhoods don't supply any high-quality grocery stores. About 3.5 million U.S. citizens live in food desserts and almost half of them are low-income households according to 11 Facts About Food Desserts. Due to a large number of people living in poverty and in food desserts, fast and unhealthy food seems to be the only affordable nutrients for these individuals, resulting in high numbers of heavy U.S. citizens
The huge amount of obese and overweight people in the U.S. is causing financial and health issues that if not resolved, could potentially cause a major health crisis for us Americans. Fortunately, the problem hasn't gone too far as to where it can no longer be minimized. However, unfortunately, societies will have to alter in many ways to make a visible difference in the number of overweight humans. The first of those would be education. Some kids grow up unaware of what's healthy and what's not especially if they were raised on junk food.
Implementing health and nutrition lessons into P.E. or health class would stick the idea of healthy eating into child's brains while they are still developing and they would be more likely to remember it when choosing which food to buy. Another change which was expressed by Community Efforts would be to change the entire environment of underserved areas by implementing nutrition and calorie content on restaurant menus and changing nutrition standards for hospitals, worksites, and childcare.
Tackling the Obesity Epidemic also suggested that Community-Based Collaborative Care Networks could help support health care workers so they can provide healthcare to low-income populations, making it easier for people to know the health risks they are in due to obesity and how they can be prevented. If we want to make a difference in the number of overweight citizens in the U.S. than many big changes will need to be made. What we shouldn't do is criticize those who are struggling with their weight because for many of us, it isn't a choice. If we work together to educate and support those who need to lose weight, then we can truly become a healthy, well-informed country.