Obesity on the Rise Throughout the United States

By Steven Thompson

Salad greens, tomato wedges, onion and olives make a great choice for a lunch-time meal. But when you add two tablespoonfuls of Ken’s Country French Salad Dressing, you are adding 150 calories, of which 100 are fat calories, to your meal.

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery group, “obesity is a life-threatening disease affecting 34 percent of adults in the United States; 68 percent of adults are either overweight or obese.”

“I believe obesity is a problem in America,” said DeAngelo Spathcer, a sophomore at Florida State College at Jacksonville. “A lot of people say, ‘accept me for who I am,’ but at the same time, you have to take care of yourself by taking better care of your body.”

Maggie Fox recently wrote in an article entitled, “American Obesity Rates are on the Rise, Gallup Poll Finds,” that 28 percent of Americans polled classified themselves as clinically obese, and more considered themselves overweight. Statistics show that out of the 50 states, Mississippi had the highest occurrence of obesity for the second consecutive year–and Florida ranks 32 as of 2014.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified in its guidelines on obesity that heart disease, stroke, hypertension, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes and some cancers can be directly linked to obesity. In addition, it revealed that, “the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.”

“Family traditions are changing; families are not preparing home-cooked meals the way they did years ago,” said Jade Hill, a sophomore at FSCJ. Hill identified one of many contributing factors; others include genetics, metabolism, culture, illness, environment and psychological issues.

Fox wrote in her article that the national obesity rate in 2014, according to a Gallup poll, recorded the highest numbers since tracking began in 2008. Obesity was found to be higher among those 40-59 years of age–and in more than a few states, a third of the population was obese.

Gallup lists Hawaii, Colorado, Montana, California and Massachusetts as America’s slimmest states. Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma are listed as America’s most obese. America’s obesity problem has become a complicated dilemma.

“Economics does play a factor in the obesity problem. If someone has a very low income, they are going to be susceptible to buying high calorie foods,” said Andrea Altice, a registered dietitian and professor of Human Nutrition at FSCJ. “All it takes is the proper education on how to budget and eat healthy.”

“I believe that the most common food choices that contribute to obesity are foods that are high in calories,” Altice said. “It doesn’t really matter what food source of excess calories you are consuming. If you are consuming more calories than your body requires, you will store the excess fat.”

Altice stressed the importance of eating dried beans and peas, because they are high in fiber and protein, and also low in fat and cost less than meat. She recommended rounding out one’s diet with whole grains for fiber and to satiate hunger, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Altice recommends the following five steps that Americans can take to reduce obesity:

  • Eat fewer calories by reducing the portions of your food.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Modify behaviors that contribute to weight gain.
  • Start a daily food log to monitor intake.
  • Learn how to manage stress.

Featured image by: Ralph Aichinger

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