Singh (2014) states that depression and anxiety are comorbidities of obesity. A depressed mood is linked to poor diet and obesity. Sensory and psychological pathways influence food choice, the quantity, and meal frequency. Obese people overeat due to inability to perceive their physiological state, hunger, and satiety and that overeating
Reduces their emotional discomfort and anxiety. Individuals experiencing depressed moods prefer to consume palatable “comfort foods” in order to alleviate their negative feelings (Singh, 2014). Chronic consumption of calorically-rich foods ultimately leads to obesity.
In a study conducted by David Engstrom (2018), 2,005 bariatric patients were evaluated for their depression before and after surgery. Results indicate that 24% of those patients had depression prior to surgery, but six months post surgery there was a 62.5% decrease in excess weight, followed by a 13% reduction of symptoms for depression. Twelve months post surgery, there was a 76.9% loss of excess weight, followed by an 18% reduction in depressive symptoms. These statistical data concludes that a loss excess body weight after bariatric surgery reduces symptoms of depression.
Fast Foods and Food Costs
According to Registered Dietician Sarah Muntel (2012), she claims that from meals at fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King, Wendeys, and Taco Bell you can easily consume 1,500 calories from just one meal, but the general caloric recommendation for Americans is 1,500-1,800 calories per day. Several food items were listed along with the calories, which included the meal itself, side orders, and the drink. Here are several examples. Wendeys 4 for 4 has a total of 1,130 calories. McDonalds big mac has 540 calories. Taco Bell’s Nacho Bell Grande has 770 calories. Based from these quantitative data, these foods are highly processed, full of fat, calories, and sodium Muntel (2012).
People can find a fast food restaurant at every corner. They can upsize items for just a few cents, and order a dollar cheeseburger. Recently, Wendeys is doing a promo that if you purchase any size fries it is only one dollar. It is time consuming for people to cook meals, and shop for ingredients when you can just go to the drive through of any of these fast food restaurants and purchase a cheap meal. Many Americans are busy and don’t have time to prepare meals it is just easier to have the grab and go philosophy. What they do not realize is the implications that may bring to their health like cardiovascular disease, overweight, or obesity (Muntel, 2012).
According to Patricia (2012), shopping at lower cost supermarkets may be closely linked to high obesity rates, reports a study in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers did a study in Washington surveying residents and collecting data on food destinations and addresses on supermarkets. Studies found that in high priced supermarkets obesity prevalence was 9%; whereas, in low priced supermarkets obesity prevalence was 27% (Patricia, 2012). This shows that obesity rates had no impact on the distance to the supermarket. These findings show that food costs trumped convenience. Ensuring equitable access to affordable, healthy foods is key.
There are numerous obesity prevention programs across the country, and even on Guam. According to Healthy People 2020 (2018), educational and community based programs should be implemented in order to encourage and enhance health and wellness by educating the public on various topics including obesity prevention. Healthy People 2020 (2018), states that their goal is to, “Increase the quality, availability, and effectiveness of educational and community-based programs designed to prevent disease and injury, improve health, and enhance quality of life.” A few programs on Guam include HATSA, Kids for the Cure, and Paradises Fitness Center classes.
According to Healthy People 2020 (2018), the Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends that worksite programs should be facilitated to improve diet, physical activity, and reduce weight among employees. Interventions to improve worksite nutrition and increase physical activity should take place. Informing and educating employees through lectures, written materials, or educational software should be done. Activities such as counseling, skill-building activities, and support systems should take place. Changes to the physical environment that targets the entire workforce can help employees make healthier choices. Maybe instead of vending machines, there should be more healthy foods available. Opportunities to be more active at work should include on-site exercise facilities.
According to the American Obesity Treatment Association (2009), there are numerous programs taking place across the country. This includes Michelle Obama’s “Lets Move” initiative, which is designed to provide healthier foods in schools, help kids become more physically active, and make healthier affordable food available in every part of our country.
The Center for Disease Control funded several programs, which include: Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and Environmental Change (ACHIEVE) Communities, Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC), Strategic Alliance for Health (SAH) Communities, and the U.S. State and Territorial Health Departments Collaborative for Chronic Diseases (American Obesity Treatment Association, 2009). The Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and Environmental Change (ACHIEVE) program develops and implements policy, systems, and environmental change that can prevent or manage risk factors for obesity and other diseases. The Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC) gathers superior representatives from the local government, public health, and private sectors to focus on improving the environment for a healthier lifestyle. The Strategic Alliance for Health (SAH) Communities improve community health through sustainable, innovative, and evidence-based community health promotion and chronic disease prevention interventions that promote policy, systems, and environmental changes. The U.S. State and Territorial Health Departments Collaborative for Chronic Diseases promotes healthy lifestyles and prevents chronic diseases.
Several programs across the nation include CDC’s State-based Nutrition and Physical Activity Program to Prevent Chronic Diseases Including Obesity, Northwest Obesity Prevention Project, Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better, California’s Project Lean, North Carolina’s Eat Smart Move More Campaign, and New York State Physical Activity Coalition (American Obesity Treatment Association, 2009).
Since obesity is a global epidemic, other places have taken the initiative to create programs of their own. In the United Kingdom, they developed the Change4LifeProgramme, which gives advice on a healthy diet and physical activity. In Africa, they have a pilot program for African-American mothers and daughters that educate them on how to read food labels, the problems associated with obesity, and risks of high fat intake. In addition, Africa has the Power-Up after school program that is aimed to prevent obesity in African-American children.
Recommendation for Problem
For infants, parents should not have the mentality that a healthy baby is one that is chunky. Since obesity during infancy is deemed to follow all the way throughout adulthood, precautions should be taken. It is best if babies feed through breast milk instead of infant formula. Also, parents should not use food as a prize or reward. Lastly, babies need to get the necessary amount of rest and parents need to know how to regulate emotions within the baby.
For adults, since we have so many fast food restaurants available I would recommend the building of more healthy fast food restaurants so that way it is still quick yet healthy. People resort to unhealthy fast food restaurants like McDonalds, Wendeys, etc. because it is cheap and readily available. Fast food restaurants also upsize drinks and meals for a few cents upcharge, which entices people to go ahead and purchase it. People already know unhealthy food is bad for their health, yet you still find them at the fast food drive through. If only we had healthy, quick drive thru then maybe people will go there instead. It is all about time management and cost. If fast food drive thrus are quick and affordable, why not make one for healthy drive thrus too?
For adults on Guam and the Pacific Islands, food is a cultural thing. Barbeque and fiestas are a way of bonding and celebration. But those barbeque foods are unhealthy even though it is delicious. I recommend to avoid the foods at the beginning of the table and consume the salads at the end. Or bring your own healthy dish to the party and eat just that.
In addition, supermarkets should lower the prices of healthy foods so that it can be more affordable for consumers (Muntel, 2018). Many people say they would eat healthy only if it did not cost so much. Not only that, supermarkets should remove deals that entice consumers to buy more than they need. For example: Buy one get one free, or two for one deals, or food with expired dates are super cheap.
In the workplace, vending machines should have more healthy snack options like trail mix, granola bars, yogurt, etc. instead of skittles, snickers, and cookies. Also, drink vending machines should have healthy options like fruit shakes instead of soda. Also, a weight room that is easily accessible after work hours should be established in the worksite. People want something that is convenient. They do not want to spend a cent on gym memberships or waste gas going to the gyms at Andersen or Naval Station Base. By doing this, it may get people to utilize the facility since it is within the workplace. By establishing programs and accessible, healthy foods at affordable costs can maybe mitigate the problem.
Lastly, I think advertising obesity through social media would be effective. There should be an increased awareness of obesity through social media, pamphlets at health centers, and on commercials. People need to know the seriousness of this global epidemic. Obesity is something that is preventable so why are people not being proactive and taking preventive measures? Maybe if people see statistics on obesity and real pictures they might come to the realization that they should reflect on their lifestyle choices. This is not something that can be eradicated in a short amount of time. It takes careful planning and steps to get to the proposed outcome.
It amazes me how there are numerous programs and resources about obesity that are given out to the public, but obesity is still an increasing, global epidemic. If parents can prevent obesity during the infant stages of life, that can readily decrease the population of adults becoming obese in adulthood. If overweight or obese individuals improve and change their lifestyle choices that can readily change the statistics globally. By establishing programs and accessible, healthy foods at affordable costs can maybe mitigate the problem. We as a people can offer all these programs and educate a vast majority of people, but at the end it all comes down to the individual if they want to change their life or to remain the same.
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