America's Obesity Epidemic: A Brief Analysis

America's Obesity Epidemic: A Brief Analysis



there's no better word than epidemic to describe this problem in America roughly sixty percent of American adults and thirty percent of American children are either overweight or obese but this is just me telling you things you already know what is less understood than the commonality of this problem is the fine details so what the hell's going on to begin to understand this problem we need to look towards rural areas in America obesity is more common in rural residents than urban residents some of the key factors that have contributed to rural obesity are the influence of poverty limited access to healthy and affordable food and lack of nutrition education services these factors could very well be the cause for obesity in general so let's look at these factors firstly the influence of poverty and limited access to healthy and affordable food surprisingly or unsurprisingly if you're Wiebe Japan is roughly 1/10 of the obesity rate that America does and this might be due to a part of their culture related to the factor of obesity I just mentioned Japan has a radically different food environment than America does especially in terms of what's available to consumers and the cost at which it's made available in Japan this major difference in food environment can be attributed to the small amount of fast food places they have around 15 times less per person compared to America and large amount of convenience stores 10 times more per square kilometer compared to America it's also the quality of these convenience stores that makes a difference as well there are many articles on the internet detailing that Japanese convenience stores provide healthy food that's not only cheap but much better than what is usually available in American fast-food restaurants and convenience stores the difference between America and Japan and food environments could be the reason that they have such dramatically different rates of obesity within their populations if that's true then just changing availability of healthy food especially at lower prices to accommodate people with lower incomes could have a drastic change on the rate of obesity now the other major factor contributing to obesity is lack of nutrition education services and the breakdown of this problem takes a lot more than just citing a country where porn is censored before I get into the formal education based on nutritional health I think people do need to be aware of the psychological factors that contribute to eating habits and thus occasional weight gain these factors are variety portions and the domino effect variety is quite simple the more variety and what you're eating the more you're likely to consume this is why complex spreads of many different foods at parties or gatherings can lead people to eat more than they usually do the second psychological factor portions makes a contribution to eating habits as well and is illustrated quite well by this story believe it or not I was actually learning about these psychological factors in an Advanced Placement psychology course while I was in high school when portions came up one student complained about how on the trip to a European country the portions were smaller to illustrate his point about smaller portions leading to eating less my teacher asked the student if they had asked for seconds and they said no basically put smaller portions can lead to a person eating less while larger ones can lead to a person eating more funnily enough this actually makes the common rebuttal to banning larger drink sizes well dill ters buy two smaller ones incorrect the last psychological factor known as the domino effect isn't exclusively about eating habits but still applies put simply if I'm meeting with a group of friends and one gets up for seconds I and the rest of my group are more likely to do so this is because we now feel more comfortable getting seconds since someone else did making us follow suit like a line of dominoes while I'm on the note of psychology I'd also like to debunk the common misconception that fat shaming is an effective way to fix the problem of weight gain and obesity the claim with fat shaming is that if you bully someone who's overweight for said weight they will lose it since they're ashamed of it but studies show otherwise instead fat shaming has the opposite of its intended effect and instead makes the victims gain weight this is likely due to the usual human responses to increase stress which of course include overeating if the people who participate in fat shaming are actually concerned about the weight of their friends a more effective alternative would be to establish a gym group or Club this way a community has been established which holds its members to their goals and associates positive instead of negative emotions with exercise getting to formal education on obesity and nutritional health it certainly hasn't been adequate our first example is the food pyramid there are many critiques of it but one main one is the failure to make a distinction between complex and simple carbohydrates sometimes this sends the wrong signal and I imagine that some people might see that they need more carbohydrates according to this chart and we'll end up filling that requirement with simple carbohydrates which would make them worse off not all carbohydrates are equal and it's usually processed and refined ones that are nutritionally inadequate let's take grain for instance whole grain still has bran and germ which contain many important nutrients meanwhile white grain doesn't which means it's much less nutrient rich this lack of nutrients is shown in the difference between the whole and refined flour as seen in this comparison chart not only just refined flour have more calories but it also has less nutrients like fiber protein and riboflavin while it does give you slightly more carbohydrates this comes with the cost of many other nutrients that you could be getting this is why if you ever receive more extensive education than just a food pyramid you might be told to get your carbohydrates from whole-grain foods what about food related organizations surely that's bring into action in response to the obesity epidemic right well not always the FDA has only recently added a regulation to require that added sugars be added to food labels while such a change is projected to improve dietary health this regulation came about only after the sugar Association and many other companies haggled the FDA not to pass this regulation the reason because being more open about the sugar content of their products would hurt their business boohoo the USDA isn't any better they've been bribed by meat related industries and associations to do things like remove references to the decrease in meat consumption in the US Dietary Guidelines once again companies have tried to keep health experts from hampering their profits simply because they value said profits over nutritional health they do this some more creative ways than just paying organizations to treat them more favorably canned styie tere guidelines like the way they deceptively present serving sizes for instance many sweetened beverages like sodas have close to or much more than the daily limit for sugar consumption take this bottle of crush for example it is 71 grams of sugar which is more than double the daily limit for an adult male yet it's made in a way to suggest that such should be consumed in one serving since it's in one bottle and labeled as being one serving per bottle another example of deceptive food serving sizes is ramen many people don't know that only half a package is one serving size and this is obfuscated by no clear separation on the noodles and only one flavor packet what ends up happening as a result of this is people eat the whole packet thinking this one serving size this means that they end up beating 76 percent of their daily value of sodium with just one package of this stuff maybe finals aren't the only reason college kids are salty well this next point isn't related to nutritional education I thought it'd be worth bringing up one Theory called set point theory suggests that your body likes to stay at a set point because it naturally prefers in equilibrium so according to this theory it is hard to change your weight since your body will do things like adjust hunger and metabolism to keep you at a set point I imagine obesity might become a scary problem because corporations poverty and poor food environment can work against those who wish to prevent this problem in themselves so I'll leave you with the American Heart Association's Dietary Guidelines it contains just a few simple and easy to understand goals so that one can follow to avoid heart problems and improve their dietary health of course it will take caution and time to pay attention to what you eat and examine food labels but it can mean a lot to your overall health to do so you

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