Obesity in America: The Facts and the Consequences
Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) that is greater than 30 kg/m2. The Body mass index is usually obtained by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height. Being obese differs from being overweight, they are two different concepts defined by different parameters. A person is considered overweight when his or her body mass index falls within the range of 25–30 kg/m2. Obesity has become a major public health challenge in the United States largely due to changes in diet preferences and lifestyle patterns. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 36.5% of adults in the United States are obese. Recently available data also indicates that Louisiana has the highest rate of adult obesity in the United States at 36.2% while Colorado has the lowest at 20.2 %. Obesity increases the risk of several chronic disease conditions including diabetes type 2 cancer, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Obesity places a huge financial burden on personal and national coffers. The medical cost for obese individuals is about $ 1,429 higher than those of individuals with a normal BMI. As at 2008 the annual cost of obesity in the United States had already reached $147 billion and this is expected to exceed the current $ 210 billion if current trends are not halted.
According to the Journal of American Medicine, Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest rate of obesity in the united states at 48.1% this is closely followed by Hispanics with 42.5%, non-Hispanic whites have a rate of 34.5% while non-Hispanic Asians have the lowest rate of 1.7%. Available data also shows that, obesity rates are generally higher among middle age adults aged 40-59 years.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), those with higher incomes are at higher risk of obesity than those with lower income among non-Hispanic black and Mexican Americans. In addition, women with college degree have been shown to be less likely to be obese as compared to less educated women but in men no significant relationship was found between obesity and education.
A large percentage of adults in America are physically Inactive (80%). To be considered active an individual need to take at least 5000 steps daily. Available data indicates that, Mississippi has the highest rate of physically in-active individuals (36.8%) perhaps this explains why it also has the highest rate of diabetes in the United States.
According to a Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance report about
- 9 % of high school students are obese
- 0% of high school student overweight.
- Obesity rates in children ages 10 to 17 ranged from a low of 9.9 -21.7 % ((NSCH)
Until there is a deliberate and united effort to make significant changes regarding Americas insatiable appetite for junk food to the detriment of healthy choices coupled with other critical lifestyle adjustments, the impact of excess weight and its consequences will continue to be burden on the United States and its population.
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