Sunday, 16 March 2014

Obesity in the USA

·        People with a BMI of 25+ are considered overweight and people with a BMI of 30+ are obese.

·        Becoming an increasing health problem with 1.4 billion adults worldwide and 2.8 million deaths per yr.

·        More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese.

·        Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese

·        Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents in the US has almost tripled

·        Inactive lifestyle – developments in technology mean less physical activity e.g. in 1960 nearly half the jobs in the US required moderate physical activity but in 2010 it was only 20%. In their spare time people spend more time watching TV than in outdoor recreation.

·        Oversized food portions. Americans are exposed to huge food portions in restaurants, fast food places, gas stations, movie theatres, supermarkets, and even at home. E.g. a typical can of soda in the US usually consumed as one portion contains 2.5 servings.

·        Lack of access to healthy foods, for example in poorer areas, combined with increasing availability and advertising of fast food. School lunch programs in poorer areas are often exploited by fast food outlets.

·        Not having area parks, trails, sidewalks, and affordable gyms makes it hard for people to be physically active.

·        Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

·        Obesity can put extra pressure on joints and limbs, making activity quite difficult and in turn making the obesity worse. It can also reduce your life expectancy by up to 9 years 

·        There are many obesity related conditions and direct medical spending on diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, therefore, is likely to increase with rising obesity levels. Rising obesity levels will also have put pressure on the resources that the health centres do have.

·        The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. is $200 billion while the medical costs for people who are obese is on average 36% higher per year than those of normal weight.

·        Weight gain has also been linked with poor concentration levels and poor academic success 

·        Weight stigma increases vulnerability to depression, low self-esteem, reduced quality of life poor body image, maladaptive eating behaviours and exercise avoidance.

·        There is strong evidence to suggest an association between obesity and poor mental health in both children and adults.  

·        The FDA (US food and drug administration) is working to reduce the burden of obesity by food labelling and education campaigns such as the ‘Lets Move’ campaign recently launched by Michelle Obama. However, it is difficult to change people’s habits overnight.

·        Grants are provided by the CDC (The Centre for Disease Control) for state-focused nutrition programs, which have so far been started in 27 states.

·        Obesity legislation has been passed such as the ‘Healthy Outdoor Kids Act’ in 2011, which aims to increase physical activity. ‘Obamacare’ now requires health insures to do more to help obese patients.

·        The Obesity Action Coalition provides information and support groups to people who experience obesity stigma.


Discussion point: What would you say is the biggest cause of obesity in the USA?

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