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Obesity Threat to the Young Generation

Obesity Threat to the Young Generation

It is estimated that 78 million Americans, including 13 million children, have to deal with health and emotional burdens associated with obesity. Obesity has become a concern in the American health system, because it is a trigger factor for other chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, and joint problems. In turn, obesity is contributed to by poor diet and excess caloric intake. Overconsumption of foods high in saturated fats, salt, sugars, and additives is the primary reason for the disease. Unfortunately, American food culture includes significant amounts of fast foods, which has poor nutritional content and thus, is unhealthy. The tragedy is that obesity is affecting millions of children since they are ten years old, and the prevalence is also rising for adults below 35 years. Therefore, America can hardly be considered a healthy nation. Apart from the health-related problems, obesity has negative impacts on the economy, as it leads to significant expenditures for healthcare sector, which causes debt and slow economic growth. The young generation represents the future of the country and such issues as obesity must be addressed. Obesity is the fastest growing health threat affecting the health of American youth, social and economic well-being, which is caused by poor lifestyle, lack of access to information, and ignorance.

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Statistics

The Center for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 36.5% of American Adults are obese (Ogden et al 3). At the same time, conditions that are related to obesity, including stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart diseases, are the leading causes of preventable death. The United States citizens and government spent $147 billion for the management of the problem in 2008, and every obese patient will spend $1429 more in healthcare costs compared to a person with normal weight (Ogden, et al. 3). The CDC reports that the prevalence of obesity was 17% for the American youth between 2011 and 2014. For preschoolers, aged two to five, this value comprised 8.9%, while for the children aged between six and eleven, the prevalence rate was 17%, and for adolescents it comprised 20.5%. (Ogden, et al. 3). It is critical to note the trend in the provided data: as the American children grow, obesity rates keep rising steadily and by the time they enter college as young adults, the prevalence rate for obesity reaches the alarming 20%. Obesity at such young age becomes a lifelong condition and contributes to development of disability, affecting the emotional and physical health of the patient. In addition, social lives of the obese young persons are affected, as studies find that bullied children have low self-esteem and are more likely to grow up depressed (Lim, et al. 2). Therefore, it is critical to combat obesity to protect the social, emotional, and physical health of the youth.

Causes of Obesity Among the Youth

Poor lifestyle characterized by low level of physical activity and high-fat food have been found to underlie obesity. Americans have a fast food culture, and the average teenage diet is high in fats, sugar, salts and additives. In addition, young people spend more time watching movies, playing computer gaming, visiting internet websites, of just looking through social network pages, and allocate much less time on physically demanding activities. Moore, et al. (1316) highlights that exposure to passive smoking and poor diet increases the risk for obesity. The study was conducted with the involvement of young people between six and 19 years as a part of the National Health and Nutrition survey 2010. It was found that exposure to passive smoking and poor diet increased the risk for obesity. The study also concludes that prevention measures against obesity, which aim at improving diets for children and teenagers, are rather effective (Moore et al. 1319). Mary et al. (71) notes that the diet of the American does not meet the recommendations for their age. At the same time, they do not have an adequate physical activity levels, which makes them suffering from obesity. At the same time, the role of schools in both diet and physical activity should be taken into account, since children spend a substantial time there. Therefore, schools should create awareness and alter diets given to children to ensure healthy nutritional content, as well as introduce the sufficient level of physical activity (Mary et al. 71). Overall, the studies indicate that unhealthy diet and low level of exercising are the key triggers of obesity among American youth.

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American youth and children are subjected to the daily effects of advertisement, promoting foods and products of low nutritional value, which influences, what they purchase and eat. The most common advertisement is related to fast foods and carbonated drinks, which have been found to trigger obesity. Beales et al. (185) notes that numerous studies show television programs influence the decisions of children, when it comes to the type of food they consume.  The advertising of unhealthy food products to children causes them to adopt poor eating habits, which leads to obesity. In the longitudinal study, analyzing the relationship between television and childhood obesity, correlation was negligible only for children aged below seven (Beales et al. 185). Therefore, promotion of unhealthy lifestyle affects people as they enter the age of social interaction and understanding of rituals, and thus, advertisement of certain food products leads to increased rates of obesity.

It was identified that youth in low-income communities are more subjected to obesity. Children of Latinos and African-Americans have higher risks for obesity compared to middle and high-income communities. Therefore, income is a factor, which contributes to the obesity crisis, which is reasonable, as it determines access to more expensive high quality and nutritious food (Poskitt 239). Moreover, unhealthy junk foods are very cheap, but harmful for the consumer’s health. Unfortunately, young people tend to prefer saving rather than the nutritional value of food. Moreover, there is an ignorance of healthy food, mainly by teenagers and young adults. While health information is readily available on the internet, young people being the major internet users, still have poor understanding of their health. Unfortunately, such attitude has devastating consequences for individual later in life.

Outcomes of High Obesity Rates

Obesity is the primary trigger factor for the development of other chronic diseases, including heart diseases, diabetes, and hypertension. CDC indicates that chronic conditions are the top causes of death in America. Diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems, are becoming disabling for individuals and families. As the rate of obesity among young people increases, the associated chronic diseases will become an epidemic. According to Taan (301), there is a strong link between diabetes and heart diseases, with obesity being the major trigger for both chronic conditions. Loss of income and poverty are the two complications that persons fighting obesity must consider. As obesity triggers a lot of other conditions, it suggests the additional expenditures for treatments and rehabilitation. Young people with obesity are likely to cause income vulnerabilities for their families or grow up with financial challenges.

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Finally, obesity and related chronic conditions significantly lower life quality and expectancy. Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death in American, as highlighted by the report by the CDC (Ogden, et al.). Therefore, a person with this condition is likely to live a shorter and low-quality life. It is primarily alarming for young people, who should be enjoying their youth and good health, as the body weakens with age.

Recommendations: Preventive and Management Measures

Information and awareness programs in schools and communities provide one of the ways to achieve the sufficient level of consciousness about obesity. Institutions, such as schools, churches, health centers, and community centers, where young people spend most of their time, realize the obesity prevention programs. For example, health education in schools must expose children to information on obesity, which they can carry home. Obesity must be countered from all sides at home, school, health centers, and community centers.

Better diet in schools and co-curriculum activity programs should be implemented. Young people spend a significant share of their time in schools up to college. School diet in the United States has to be reviewed as food given to children today is unhealthy. Veugelers, et al. (432) compared 5200 five-grade students in schools with proper diet and physical activities as key parts of the curriculum and those without any consideration of these aspects. Schools with mandatory healthy diet and physical activity programs had fewer children with obesity compared to schools without such programs incorporated in their systems. Therefore, schools have a significant role in obesity control. Children are easily influenced, and government and parents must ensure their minds and eating behaviors are not corrupted by profit-seeking organizations.

Conclusion

Therefore, obesity crisis has become a national challenge. Today, 17% of the American youth are obese, which puts them at the risk for other chronic diseases, including cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and stroke. At the same time, their quality of life and life expectancy will drop significantly. Obesity has an adverse impact on social, emotional, and financial lives of the affected persons. For example, obese people have higher rates of mental illness, low self-esteem, and and vulnerable to bullying. Americans spend over $147 on medical bills related to obesity. There is an urgent need to launch awareness and counter programs in schools, families, health centers, and media. Obesity threatens the young generation of the USA, especially its future. Overall, it is a lifestyle challenge, and by changing lifestyles, severe complications associated with obesity can be prevented allowing for a high-quality life.

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