Articles, Blog

The Obesity Epidemic

January 7, 2020

The children of today are those minds that
will be soon powering the human experience. Clearly, this population is of great value
and hosts an amazing potential to shape the human experience for the better, but their
power for such change is matched evenly with habitual stagnation. Food consciousness is on a decline, and opposing
it death due to health related illness is on the rise. The lack of activity and food
awareness is creating sluggish, uninformed youth with expanding waistlines. The obesity
epidemic has quickly become a high priority health problem in the United States. It is
currently the second highest cause of death due to preventable disease, close behind tobacco
use. A major cause? High carbohydrate diets. Children need to reduce diets high in carbohydrate,
because they are a major cause of obesity, where diets that cause obesity increase the
risk for cardiometobolic disorders, psychological distress, and the development of an unhealthy
lifestyle. The use of carbohydrate dense sweeteners increased
by 86% between 1909 and 1997, and the type of sweeteners used also changed dramatically.
Corn syrup sweeteners, nonexistent at the beginning of the century now represent more
than 48% of the US sweetener market; for the general consumer they account for over 20%
of the total daily carbohydrate intake and 10% of the daily total caloric intake, an
increase of more than 2000%. Recent National Health and Nutrition Examination
Survey data suggest that adolescents are by far the highest fructose consumers, consuming
over 70 grams per day (which is about 12% of their total calories); and more than 20%
of adolescents consume more than 25% of their total calories as fructose”. Between 1980 and 1997 an increase in carbohydrate
consumption from 48% to 54% of total energy intake increased the prevalence of obesity
by 80%. The issue here is not the particular sugars
and their qualities; it’s their sheer volume of consumption. As a society we eat way past
the daily-recommended amount, indulging for example in several sugary drinks day, five
or six cookies, or a mound of pancakes for breakfast. All of that extra energy has to go somewhere,
and children certainly aren’t balancing the higher energy intake with exercise. Childhood obesity is a multisystem disease
with devastating consequences. Studies show that for young men, chronic high volume consumption
of sugary drinks increases cardiovascular risk markers, and that only 3 weeks of moderate
consumption is sufficient to show escalated risk markers. Overweight children show increased
risk for: premature illness, diabetes, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure,
elevated fat in the blood, chronic inflammation, blood clotting tendency, heart attack, and
stroke. The morbidity of our children skyrockets as they get obese. All of these potential
risks add up to a sedentary, immobile lifestyle, a decreased quality of life, and a much shorter
lifespan. Alongside the physical health, mental health
is also poor among obese children, where on average overweight children have lower self-esteem
and as a result, are more at risk of participating in high risk activates including smoking and
alcohol consumption. Studies overwhelmingly conclude that obesity has adverse effects
on the psychological health of our children. Finally, obesity, like many habitual problems
is hard to resolve whether old or young and obese children easily mature into obese adults.
This lifestyle poses a threat that goes beyond the damage done to the body. The costs associated
with the obesity epidemic pose interesting questions. Rates of obesity increased 2-3
times over the course of 25 years in America from 1971 to 1999 (Ebbeling, et al. 473),
what are the next 25 to 50 years going to look like? Currently a whole third of the U.S. population
suffers from an obese lifestyle, and 60% of Americans in the U.S. are overweight. The
future is bleak; figures suggest that by 2022, 80% of Americans will be overweight or obese
(Wang, 2329). And the total estimated cost related to obese and overweight Americans
doubles every decade, topping out around 956.9 billion US dollars by 2030 (that’s almost
a trillion), and accounts for 18% of the total US health-care costs. (Wang, 2329) This future is not sustainable, acceptable,
or defendable. We need to educate the young people of America; this is a future we can
avoid. Reduce the amount of sugar you consume, increase your knowledge of the risks associated
with poor eating habits. If nothing else. Do it for the children.

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