America's Escalating Obesity Predicament

In the last couple of years, everyone has been learning more about the effects of obesity. Things have been getting gradually worse for the last twenty years, but we seem to just now be realizing this. The US has the greatest obesity ratio in the developed world. The number of fat children and grown-ups has grown by 100% in the past twenty-five years. As of 2004, 17% of the total children were obese and 32% of the total adults past 20 were obese. Basically the number of people who are chasing their health by being too big ranges in the millions. It is now considered one of the largest health hazards in the country as the probability of obesity continues to rise. What happened to make us all so big? Many environmental factors that are now an American way of life are believed to be the causes of this general increased girth.

Americans began to change factors of daily activity that made them more sedentary in the 1980's. Eating habits was the first thing. Meals that used to be ate at home and prepared by the homemaker are now more and more often fasten in restaurants and fast food chains. Fast food portions that were standard in the 60's are two to three times larger in today's competitive restaurants. A cheeseburger in many of today's most popular sit-down restaurants can be double or triple the size of a McDonald's Big Mac, even though the popular chain has been under fire the last few years as the leading culprit for America's weight problem. Just one of these super-sized meals can be a person's entire day's necessary calories.

Obesity has also grown due to American affluence. The need to conserve goods and foods diminishes gradually as people in developed nations acquire more and more wealth. Children that a couple of generations ago would have been more limited on food choices because of a parent's budget nowdays are given wider and bigger choices in what they partake in. With parents that eat out constantly because disposable income allows them to, children form their earliest habits with rich, high calorie restaurant foods. The US produces nearly three times more food than US residents eat, so most people are not worried about where or how their food is prepared and go more by food cravings.

Another major factor of obesity is the sedentary lifestyle that many Americans live. More adults have cars and use them to travel everywhere they go, even if it is a very short distance. Busy lifestyles and hectic work schedules make it difficult for many people to find the time to work out. More jobs are becoming less active as technology is advanced. So now Americans who come home from work and rest because they are tired from their job will get little or no physical activity all day long.

Obesity affects you whether you're in those demographics or not. In the airline industry, lawsuits to widen passenger seats that are bought against airlines by obese people and the extra fuel that it takes to haul all this extra weight is now costing Americans an estimated 275,000,000 dollars a year now in increased air fares. In the medical field, health issues caused by obesity now make up nearly 10% of all medical expenses with a yearly cost of 78,500,000,000 dollars. Litigation with obese plaintiffs became so prevalent, the government even tried to make laws protecting food producers with the Cheeseburger bill of 2004.

BMI, or body mass index is what is used to measure obesity. The higher the BMI, the more likely the person is to have serious health issues. There are three levels of obesity; mild obesity with a BMI of 30+, morbid obesity at BMI 40+, and malignant obesity with a BMI of 50+. A person that is forty percent overweight is twice as likely to suffer a fatal medical problem prematurely than an average person. Currently, obesity kills an estimated 112,000 Americans a year. The risk of a heart attack, stroke, cancer, liver disease, and diabetes are just a few of the possible ailments that come along with being overweight. There are also a number of non-deadly ailments like depression, loss of bowel control, breathing problems, and swollen legs.