Discussion of Obesity and Fast Food

626 words | 3 page(s)

The article from the Department of Health and Human Services systematically addressed the public health crisis of obesity. It defines obesity as an excess of body fat and overweight as ‘an excess amount of body weight that may come from muscles, bone, fat, and water’ (DHHS). After establishing the definitions, the article lays out descriptions of the Body Mass Index, a method for determining obesity levels, and several causes of obesity and overweight individuals. Additionally it provides a large number of statistics that help the reader understand the epidemic of obesity.

Delving into the causes of obesity, the department identifies the basic underlying mechanism, energy imbalance. The body intakes a certain number of calories everyday and activity burns off those same calories. If fewer calories are burned than are taken in, the body converts those calories to body fat, eventually resulting in obesity. This can lead to a variety of diseases and conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

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According to CDC, NHANES, and NHIS studies more than two-thirds of adults in the United States and considered overweight or obese. This is not evenly distributed across races, but is disproportionately skewed towards Hispanics and blacks (DHHS)

The infographic links the high calorie intake that results in obesity with fast food in America. It provides a timeline for the large number of fast food restaurants, profit figures, pricing models, markups and facts about the industry. It also presents staggering figures such as the $39,030,000,000 spent on obesity related medical expenditures before focusing on the individuals who buy and consume fast food (America’s Fast Food Obession). The chart points out that 54% of fast food consumers have a household income of under $49,000 and that low household income families have a 50% obesity rate. It is clear that poorer households have increased consumption of fast food.

From these two articles, I learned about the link between low income and consumption of fast food and therefore obesity. While this association has not been casually linked, it is clearly a strong connection. Additionally, I learned about the correlation between the rise of fast food restaurants and obesity. From 1971-2000, obesity rates raised from 14.5% to 30.9%, a period in which a massive number of fast food restaurants were founded.

An individual who is eating a poor diet including some of these fast foods and may have some of the risk factors for obesity should be severely counseled regarding their decisions. I would inform them about some of the risk and diseases that they could potentially contract due to their obesity, in particular the most extreme examples such as stroke. I would attempt to ascertain the reasons for their eating habits, and investigate whether they are derived from their upbringing. These habits can be hard to break, but once they are identified the process can begin and it can be potentially reversed.

This epidemic of junk food is clearly linked to obesity, which in turn is linked to a wide variety of diseases. Additionally, they are not very nutritional food, so even those who do not end up getting a disease will not be properly nourished and cannot operate at optimum capability. By monitoring your caloric and nutritional input as well as your body weight and BMI it is possible to quantify the effect that these foods have on your health. Such activities are critical to maintaining good health and staving off heart disease, diabetes and stroke, and it is only sensible that they are taught to children and reinforced throughout life, especially for those at risk for cultural, genetic or financial reasons.

  • Department of Health and Human Services. Overweight and Obesity Statistics. Retrieved from http://win.niddk.nih.gov
  • Medical Coding Career Guide. America’s Fast Food Obsession. Retrieved from http://www.medicalcodingcareerguide.com/fast-food/

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