Today obesity presents itself as an alarming public health concern across the world. In recent years, an increase in the rate of obesity has been witnessed in many countries, including the United States. According to Research, the United States is one of those countries which have high obesity rates. Nearly one-third of the youth are obese or overweight. Obesity is at the top of the list of health concerns in the United States.
Obesity has drawn the attention of many communities, organizations, and governments and this is because it affects the lives of people negatively. Obesity is defined as the accumulation of fat in the human body and goes beyond the amount of fat required for the human body to function. Body mass index is the primary measure of obesity. Obesity is strongly associated with the development of various chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, sleep disorders, and many others.
Multiple studies have been conducted to investigate the reason behind the rising rates of patients suffering from obesity. Researchers wanted to know why is obesity higher in the United States as compared to any other developing country?
The evidence they found out suggests that in the last many years, there is no significant change in the calories expended by the people living in the United States, but the calories consumed by them have risen markedly.
One of the studies also suggested that obesity is strongly correlated with access to new food technologies and processed food.
Food technological innovations are considered to be the primary cause of an increased rate of obese people in the United States. Technological innovations such as vacuum packing, deep freezing, improved preservatives, microwaves, and artificial flavors, have made it possible for the food manufacturers to cook centrally and make it reach the customers for rapid consumption. These foods are often high in calories as compared to the food that is cooked at home. There are many points that can explain the role of new food technologies and processed food in increasing the risk of obesity in people in the United States. Some of the points include:
- Research has shown that there is a significant increase in the consumption of mass-produced food and a decrease in the consumption of homemade food.
- It is believed that an increased intake of calories is largely due to an increase in the number of meals rather than the calories per meal. This is because processed food decreases the fixed cost of food preparation.
- It has been observed that people who have easy access to processed food and have the ability to take advantage of technological changes are often obese and overweight.
In the United States, the prevalence of obesity among children ages 6–11 years has increased at a very high rate.
There is no doubt in saying that childhood obesity is highly associated with increasing adult obesity. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults.
Although the rates of obesity have increased in every age group, an increase in the rate of obesity in children is slightly higher. Multiple surveys have been conducted to investigate obesity in children and the rate of obesity was found to be higher in children in every survey. While the prevalence of obesity among children in the United States is well documented, less is known about the prevalence of obesity.
Fast food is a common subject that is associated with obesity. Children consuming fast food meals have higher calorie intake with low nutritional contents as compared to those who do not consume fast food or limit fast food. Sweet beverages are also a source of high-calorie intake. Several studies have found a relationship between obesity and the consumption of soft drinks or any other sweet beverage. Consumption of sugar added beverages can lead to an increase in the body mass index of an individual. Reduction in the intake of fast food and sweetened items is an effective way to avoid obesity. Intake of nutritional food is recommended.
A decrease in energy expenditure also increases the risk of obesity. It is often witnessed that children who are obese are involved in sedentary behavior. Sedentary behavior is characterized by less physical activity and reduced energy expenditure. A person is considered to be involved in sedentary behavior means that a person tends to spend much of his time sitting, lying, or any other thing that does not cause energy expenditure. Therefore, one of the best way to reduce the risk of childhood obesity is to ensure that the child is involved in physical activity and avoid sedentary behavior.
Multiple researchers have suggested that there is a close relationship between sedentary behavior and the occurrence of obesity, especially watching television. There are many mechanisms that can explain the relationship between the two.
- It reduces physical activity
- Advertisements on television increase the desire of a child to have a high-calorie snack.
- Television watching increases the consumption of snacks. This means that the longer a child watches television, the more he or she is likely to eat during that time.
- According to Robert Klesges, Mary Shelton, and Lisa Klesges, the metabolic rate of children while watching television is low than while at rest.
Genetics is also known to play a big role in the development of obesity. There are many people who have a higher susceptibility to weight gain.