The Obesity Epidemic in the United States

The obesity epidemic has been an issue not only throughout the whole world but specifically in the United States for quite some time now. With that being said the overweight population has far more complex health issues as well as many difficult challenges involving the health care system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that a person with obesity can face many health conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, death etc. Background In the article ?Obesity Prevalence in the United States“ Up, Down, or Sideways?’ by Susan Yanovski and Jack Yanovski, states that some investigators suggest that a large percentage of Americans if not 100% will be obese, meaning their BMI will be over 25, by the year 2050. Other investigators state that the United States obesity rates, even though they are high have become stabilized.

The Yanovski’s talk about which to believe since this information is coming from the same place. Government agencies have two different ways of collecting the United States population BMI scores, one through the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey (NHANES) and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for adults and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance system (YRBS) for high school aged students. The differences between the two samplings is that the NHANES is an actual measure of the exact height and weight of the individual whereas the BRFSS and YRBS is self-reported height and weight. The results from the NHANES are much more reliable since people tend to say that their height is taller than they truly are and that they weigh less than they really do.

The Yanovski’s have found that data from either the NHANES or the BRFSS/YRBS is still too high and is causing diseases to also increase in children and adults. This being said children are beginning to get diseases that people typically would not get until they are older. These diseases include type two diabetes and hypertension, which can cause even bigger issues when these children do grow older. According to the study in the article ?Morbid obesity rates continue to rise rapidly in the United States’ written by R. Sturm and A. Hattori the body mass index (BMI) has increased by 0.4 per decade for the last three decades (pg2). You can calculate your BMI by taking your weight in kilometers and then dividing it by your height in meters squared.

A normal BMI is around 18-25 and you are considered to be obese if your BMI is over 30. The United States with the highest BMI throughout the high income countries, which may not be a surprise to you due to the large rates of unhealthy/ fast foods that are consumed. Strum and Hattori constructed a telephone survey of adults from 1986 until 2010. They used the BRFSS survey which asks for the self-proclaimed height and weights of the adults in the household and then proceeded to calculate the BMI. They were able to put these into categories with related BMI scores and focused on two categories specifically, 40.0-49.9 and 50.0- and above.

Table Graph The results of the table (pg 5) show the results from 2000-2010 in the prevalence in different BMI categories.The results of the graph (pg 5)show the extreme growth of obesity rates over the 24 year period. As you can see there is a slow down around 2005 which may be due to the large concern of obesity in the United states. But you can still see that the higher BMI categories do increase at a much faster rate than the lower BMI category. The study did come with a few limitations which include only being able to reach out to individuals with landline phones and the self-proclaimed height and weight.

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