Approximately 35 percent of Americans suffer from obesity. It has become a major health issue in the United States. The American Medical Association, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American College of Endocrinology, the Obesity Society, the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, and the National Institutes of Health state that obesity is not just a simple problem but is rather considered a serious chronic disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that obesity is a national epidemic and it is not just a weight problem. It can have a serious negative effect on a person’s overall health.
Definition of obesity and overweight
Obesity and overweight are defined by BMI, which is the body mass index. It is typically calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of the height in meters. An individual is considered overweight if their BMI is between 25 and 29.9 kilograms per square meter.
If a person has a BMI of 30 kilograms per square meter and more, it indicates he/she is obese. Additionally, if a body mass index is more than 40 kilograms per square meter then a person has stage 3 obesity.
However, BMI is not a perfect measurement and does not differentiate lean mass from fat mass. If your BMI falls between the aforementioned obesity parameters, you should call your primary care physician and voice your concern. Furthermore, BMI does not take into consideration the ethnic or racial differences of a person.
When it comes to children, obesity is evaluated differently. Due to the fact that a child’s body composition varies as he/she ages, it is generally measured as a sex-age specific percentile for body mass index. Children with a BMI at or above 85th percentile indicate overweight and a BMI at or above 95th percentile indicates obesity.
The severity of the problem
According to the CDC, obesity is a widespread issue in the United States. According to the data presented by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than 35 percent (which accounts for 78.6 million) of American adults suffer from obesity.
The CDC also states that as of 2013 not a single state had an obesity prevalence of less than 20 percent while the national goal is 15 percent. California, Colorado, Hawai, Montana, Utah, Vermont and Washington, DC had the lowest rates varying from 20 to 25 percent.
The highest obesity rates accounting for 35 percent and higher were found in Mississippi and West Virginia. When it comes to regions, the South had the highest obesity rate of 30.2 percent, while the West had the lowest accounting for 24.9 percent.
Weight control specialists also claim that Hispanics and non-Hispanic black women are at a greater risk of obesity. This health condition is more typical for middle-aged adults, aged between 40 and 59 years than those aged between 20-39 years.
There is also a conception that women with higher incomes are at a lower risk of encountering obesity than those with lower incomes. However, researchers were not able to find any correlation between education and obesity in men but it detected that women with college degrees are at a lower risk of experiencing obesity than those with less education.
Additionally, specialists have found a correlation between obesity and a person’s life expectancy. Studies indicate that obese people tend to leave 6-7 years less than people without weight problems.
The impact of obesity on society
A huge portion of health care costs across the United States has been spent on obesity. As of 2010, these numbers account for between $147 and $210 billion in direct and indirect health care costs, as of 2010.
It was identified that medical costs for people with obesity were calculated to be around $1430 higher than those having a healthy weight.
Additionally, lifetime medical costs for a 10-year old child with obesity are staggering. A lifetime health care expenses are estimated to be $14 billion when multiplied by the number of 10-year olds with obesity in the United States.
When it comes to the workplace, decreased productivity and increased absenteeism due to the overweight and obesity issue is a huge economic problem. Absenteeism as a result of obesity costs approximately $4.3 billion per year, which accounts for $506 per employee.
It was identified that the higher the body mass index the higher the number of medical claims and sick days, which also increases an employee’s medical costs. It should be also mentioned that higher employee compensation claims were identified in workers with obesity problems.
Specialists say that if the overweight and obesity rate continues to rise, combined health care costs related to the treatment of this condition could increase from $48 billion to $66 billion per year by the year of 2030.
Additionally, the loss of productivity associated with the obesity condition could equal to $390 billion per year. Although, there are also costs other than financial. This chronic disease can result in early mortality and be a driver for other health problems. Obesity can have a huge, negative impact on the overall quality of life.
A new lifestyle of Americans
Weight control specialists claim that lack of exercise is a major driver of epidemic obesity nowadays. This problem was not that serious decades earlier as the majority of Americans used to work on factory floors and in fields.
Nowadays, the vast majority of citizens of the United States sit throughout the whole workday leading to fewer exercises. Studies show that only 20 percent of today’s jobs require some activities, compared to 50 percent in 1960. It means that Americans now burn between 120-140 fewer calories per day than they used to do 50 years ago.
Although, the story goes far beyond the workplace. It is also all about the way people tend to go to work and the activities they perform after work. Research shows that Americans tend to walk less than people in any other industrialized country.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 80 percent of Americans do not get enough exercise during the day. Apart from that, smoking, poor sleep, and stress contribute to obesity development as well. Without any doubt, these factors are not explicit causes of obesity.
Even people with enough financial resources find it extremely difficult to eat and exercise properly. This is extremely difficult for hard-to-reach and high-risk populations.
Weight loss specialists say that there is limited access to healthy foods in some areas of the country. In these areas, people tend to go for cheaper and readily available foods with limited nutritional value.
The obesity issue cannot be overlooked as it becomes extremely apparent in youth and continues through adulthood. Studies show that approximately 25 million children, which is around one in every three, are at risk of becoming overweight.
Today’s kids can be the first generation to live shorter than their parents if the trend continues. Studies also depict that approximately 70 percent of people with overweight problems get exposed to cardiovascular disease, which is the number 1 killer in the United States.
Obesity is believed to deplete the nation’s pocketbook and decrease the health and wellness of millions of Americans. If this problem continues to be unaddressed, the epidemic obesity will determine the country’s health, threaten the economic security and decrease productivity.
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Amelia Grant believes that information is a great force that is able to change people’s lives for the better. Check out her website blog for more.
Author: Amelia Grant
Amelia Grant is a journalist and blogger that believes information is a great force that is able to change people’s lives for the better. She has a strong passion for sharing useful and important things about health self-care, wellness and other advice that may be helpful for people. She is an enthusiast of a healthy lifestyle. You can check out her website for daily updates at Amelia’s Blog.