National Institutes of Health

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Abstract

Did you know that approximately 31 percent of men and 35 percent of women are considered overweight in America, according to the U.S. Surgeon General? In other words, approximately a third of the adults in America are struggling with obesity! Obesity is a serious and dangerous problem that Americans have to constantly deal with every day. Dangerous effects on physical health, declining mental health, and steady rises in medical expenses are just a few of the problematic struggles that come with obesity.

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Obesity has had a detrimental influence on the physical health of Americans in the past years.

As stated by the National Institutes of Health, the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States is obesity, with an estimated 300,000 deaths per year. Heart disease and strokes, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, pregnancy problems, and kidney disease are some of the health risks that come with having excess weight, to name a few. Another fatal health issue that comes from being overweight is cancer, including gallbladder, kidney, colon and rectum, and breast cancer.

Mental health is another factor that can be significantly affected by obesity. Many Americans who wrestle with being overweight or obese, also struggle with eating disorders, depression, low self-esteem, and distorted body image. Recent studies show that among patients with PTSD, 32.6% of them were obese. Also, depression contributes to a lower success of weight loss for obese Americans.

When people with a larger body are criticized by other people, it causes the victim to gain low self-esteem which can cause the person to resort to drugs or suicide. The pressure of having to conform to an impractical level of beauty can force people with obesity into anorexia or bulimia, which causes them to not eat enough calories and vital nutrients. The root of obese people’s mental health comes from the judgement, criticism, and insults that come from the world, making them feel insecure. Lastly, obesity has had an immense impact on the economy and families of the obese. In 2006, obesity was responsible for nearly 10 percent of the United States’ medical costs, approximately $86 billion per year.

Also, in 2006, Finkelstein and colleagues found that per capita, medical spendings for obese individuals was an additional $1,429. Healthcare costs for people of normal weight are 37% lower compared to the more expensive medical bills of people who are overweight. Obesity accounted for 10.6% of Medicaid costs and 6.8% of Medicare costs, totaling $21.3 billion. Obesity has impacted individual families tremendously too. Many families struggle to pay for the medical expenses of the obese patient, especially if they don’t have insurance. However, there are several ways to improve obesity in America.

One way is to simply persuade and encourage those who are obese to overcome the excess weight and lose it. Another way is to change the way foods are marketed towards Americans by making healthy foods less expensive and stop making advertisements for junk food as enticing. The final way to prevent obesity is to start educating and promoting children to make better choices on how they eat and spend their time. By doing all of these things, people can help lower the percentage of obese people in America. America would become a healthier place by reducing the amount of people that struggle with the mental health, physical health, and financial problems that come with obesity.

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