Since 1776, America has developed into a global superpower. It has most of the luxuries people could wish for. Land. Freedom. Job opportunities. Internet. Shelter. And food. These are all wonderful, but anything in excess can be unhealthy. Food is especially easy to have in excess, turning something normally healthy into its polar opposite. Obesity is a constantly growing problem for the United States of America. More attention should be drawn to this issue because of the snowball effect it can cause, making it easier and easier for Americans to develop serious cardiac diseases, food addictions, and psychological disorders. Human weaknesses allow ingenious business models like Chinese buffets to thrive. Obesity is also a huge economic problem for the United States which could bankrupt our nation.
Obesity has evolved into more of an issue in recent years. Since 1970, obesity has more than tripled. Today, “every one in five school-age children (6-19 years of age) are obese,” states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Heart Association found that one in every three kids is obese. This extreme number is caused by the psychological weaknesses in human nature. These weaknesses are exploited by greedy restaurateurs and popular fast food chains for their own profit. These exploits include using bigger plates and cups and making the food look more appetizing by placing it in places that are pleasing to the eye. This is the start of the obesity snowball effect which will impact the people of America. This is why the government should pass laws to put regulations on plate and cup sizes so restaurants can’t take advantage of obese people, preventing the problem from getting worse.
Although there are greedy restaurant owners who attempt to exploit all of the psychological weaknesses in humans, obesity is not entirely dependent on restaurant owners’ endeavors. According to researchers at Keck Medicine of the University of South Carolina (USC), fattening foods have a remarkable resemblance to drugs like heroin and cocaine. These high-calorie, high-fat content foods stimulate the pleasure areas of the brain, just like cocaine. This is why food addictions are created. They’re just as potent as the frowned upon drug addictions today. Keck Medicine also stated, “just as drug addicts develop tolerance for a certain drug, people who show signs of food addiction develop a tolerance for certain foods.” On top of all of this, according to Kim Zimmermann at LiveScience.com, American food culture is already super high in fat and calorie content. All of these foods are American foods that can cause serious addictions. Hamburgers. French fries. Ice cream. Pizza. Soda. And fried chicken. American fast food restaurants are like the drug cartels of the food industry.
Child obesity is an issue that deserves attention because of the multitude of physical and mental problems that it causes. According to the rigorous studies of the CDC, obese children are at higher risk of having other chronic health conditions and diseases that impact physical health such as: sleep apnea, asthma, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “More than two in three adults were considered to be overweight or have obesity.” That is over half the entire country, some two hundred million people. What does obesity almost always carry with it? Health issues. And what are health issues? Expensive.
It is estimated that obesity costs America up to a staggering $200 billion per year. So in a hundred years, if obesity levels stay the same as they are now, which they most definitely won't, we would spend anywhere up to $20 trillion. According to my calculations, if obesity keeps growing at its rate, we can use the equation x*1.31^t, letting x equal the number of obese people in 1970, and t equaling the number of years since 1970. Since around 27 million people were obese in 1970, we can plug that number into my derived equation. (27 million)*1.31^100, the result we get is about 6.7E18 people, and then plug in the cost of obesity per person per year. According to Eric Pianin of The Fiscal Times, it is about $92,000 per person with obesity, 6.7E18*$92,000, we get $620 sextillion. America’s current debt is a speck of dirt compared to this monster. I am not a mathematician, so my equation is not exact, and it doesn’t account for deaths. The equation serves its purpose by how explosive this problem can be. This is why obesity must be dealt with now.
Obesity is growing at an alarming rate. Dr. Xiaozhong Wen, assistant professor at University at Buffalo Department of Pediatrics, states, “We found that preschoolers whose parents had no food rules drink soda about 25 percent more than children whose parents had food rules.” He concluded that children whose parents are obese and lazy will also become fat and nonproductive. Dr. Wen concluded that the parents’ influence on their children will determine whether or not their child becomes obese.
To solve the obesity epidemic in America in the near future, people need to start acting now. It could determine if the next generation will be the most productive country in the world, or stuck in a hole of debt. Obesity is rapidly growing and there is no way to deny that, but there are ways to fight it. One of the most effective ways to fight obesity is through the media. The media impacted smoking cessation dramatically, and it could do the same for obesity. The media currently is used more to advertise the foods instead of trying to prevent obesity, which is taking America in the wrong direction. If obesity were prevented, then it would help America to thrive, which would free up mountains of money and help America to come out of debt and start being more productive. America could use its surplus of money to further benefit the country.
Obesity is not America’s largest problem right now, but if left unnoticed, then the country could have a serious financial problem, and a lot of people would have health issues. America cannot afford the obesity epidemic. Not only will most of the country have health problems, but also America will become a much less productive country. Although the current situation looks futile, there is a way to quell this epidemic. The media needs to bring awareness to the drug-like nature of fattening and high-calorie foods. The media also needs to promote weight loss and bring awareness to the fact that if we don’t get this situation under control soon, it could grow out of hand. Finally, parents need to be aware of their children’s diets and try to make their own healthier diet and more active for the benefit of America.
Seong-Min Daniel Jeong