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Current Issue in Public Health: Obesity

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    There are many health issues and concerns that we have to worry about and attend to. I decided to write about Obesity. I chose to write about this topic because of the severity of it. It is an epidemic that is rapidly growing and overlooked by many. Obesity hasn’t always been a problem in America. In the 1960’s and 1970’s less than 15% of Americans were obese. Obesity is not a new public health issue, it has been a concern since the 1990’s. It is gaining more attention now because more people are trying to live healthier lifestyles, we have things such as social media that really promote a healthier lifestyle. Unlike some other public health issues, obesity is a major concern because it can cause many other health concerns such as; diabetes, cancers, hypertension, high blood pressure and many other life threatening conditions.

    Obesity is not something that has been slowly rising or at a steady pace. It is just rising more and more as time goes by. It doesn’t only affect a specific gender or age group, obesity affects everyone. There is no age limit. That’s one of the worst things about obesity, it affects everyone equally. Obesity has risen drastically within the last 20 years. It has been on the rise for both adults and children. According to the American Medical Association (2018), before the year 2000 there was not any state who was above 20% in obesity, however now in 2018-2019 there are seven states with obesity over 30%. These types of numbers are definitely something to worry about. People who have obesity in their genetics tend to have higher chances of being obese. Low income communities also tend to have higher rates of obesity. According to the CDC in 2015-2016 1 in 5 children were obese. These numbers are just growing.

    The Center of Disease control can provide contact information for numerous resources that can help with obesity. Communities can also help reduce obesity. Something’s that can be done to help are promoting a healthier lifestyle, instead of building more fast food restaurants we can build more markets with food that actually has nutritional value. It is very important for communities to take action and try to really promote healthier lifestyles. It all starts from our upbringings. It can be as simple as schools making more physical activity mandatory, or not allowing children to bring certain foods to school (ex: potato chips, candy). It’s important for children and adults to have healthy alternatives, we can’t just ask everyone to change over night. Just like obesity doesn’t happen overnight. As long as there are changes being made, the rates will drop. Even if it is slowly, but some change is better than no change. Some states are already taking these steps forward and making some changes. For example, Philadelphia has the “Get Healthy Philly” program. This program provides a chance for a lower income community to have access to healthier food choices at an affordable cost. These are the types of programs that are going to slowly chip away at the obesity epidemic.

    Interventions can be very effective if people actually want to make a change or if you clear all desired stimulus and leave no choice but a healthy alternative. According to Healio (2016) a couple of effective interventions would be substituting sugar based drinks with water, or having stand up desks instead of your traditional sitting desks at schools. Children spend about 120 hours a month in school, in which most of their day is spent sitting down. A standing desk is definitely something that would make a difference. Schools are also doing more dance based learning, such as “go noodle.” This allows students to dance and burn more calories and energy while incorporating academics. Of Course these are only a few ideas of what can help with obesity. Children aren’t the only ones suffering, adults tend to suffer more from obesity than children. One good place to start is with diet, we need to make healthier choices more accessible to adults/parents. This would give them the opportunity to also pass those good habits down to their children. We can’t only point people in the right direction, we have to let them know what they’re looking for. Thus, it is crucial to educate the adults/parents on the risk factors of obesity and how to avoid them so they teach their children and raise them with better habits.

    My suggestions tend to promote a lot more physical activity. Physical activity is important from a young age, it’s good to build these habits as young as possible so when you are older it is not foreign to you, yet it’s more of the norm for you. I think children need more exercise in school and healthier food choices. I also believe that sugary drinks such as soda and un healthier snacks like potato chips should have to be purchased by parents or someone older than 15 years of age. This would place some sort of negative correlation between these snacks and might drop the obesity rates. It starts with our parents, they teach us these habits. According to our text book, (p.241) if children grow up overweight, they will most likely than not grow up to be overweight adults as well. If you aren’t introduced to these sugary addicting treats you would never know of them, let alone miss them. I also believe we need to educate ourselves a lot more on this issue. Healthy practices should be taught in school a lot more and should also be a part of training for work (for adults). These are just a few suggestions/ideas that I think would make a difference in the world regarding obesity.

    Although we can’t solve this obesity problem overnight, we can definitely start making a dent in the numbers and slowing this growing health issue. All the ideas I mentioned above and read about seem like they can definitely be effective interventions. This epidemic is something that needs to be attacked by everyone in order for it to be affected. It is not something that is impossible, but it is not an easy task. I am a firm believer that if we all learn how to eat for example, portion control, eating nutrient rich foods instead of empty calories we would be able to significantly drop the obesity numbers in the United States.

    References

    1. Adult Obesity Causes & Consequences | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes.html.
    2. Writers, S. (2019, October 15). Why are Americans Obese? Retrieved from https://www.publichealth.org/public-awareness/obesity/.
    3. Adult obesity rates rise in 6 states, exceed 35% in 7. (2018, November 26). Retrieved from https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/adult-obesity-rates-rise-6-states-exceed-35-7.
    4. Obesity Facts | Healthy Schools | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm.
    5. October 11, 2016. (n.d.). Five effective interventions for obesity. Retrieved from https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/obesity/news/online/{cc1ff370-1c8b-4c3a-9258-d6cd4bdbe49d}/five-effective-interventions-for-obesity.
    6. Schneider, M.-J., & Schneider, H. S. (2017). Introduction to public health. Burlington: Jones & Barlett Learning.

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