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For The Love Of Food : Who Is Responsible For Weight?

1427 words - 6 pages

Tom Harkin, US congressman from Iowa, says that obesity now contributes to the death of more than 360,000 Americans a year. The incidence of childhood obesity is now at epidemic levels. Alarm bells are going off all over the place, but our government has basically done nothing. The obesity rate has risen to epidemic proportions in the United States. Communities across the country, recognizing obesity as an issue of serious public health concern, are looking for innovative ways to halt the increasing rate of obesity (Davis 260). The rising prevalence of childhood and adult obesity can be explained in part by changes in our environment over the last 30 years; in particular, the unlimited supply of convenient, highly palatable and energy-dense foods, coupled with a lifestyle typified by low physical activity (Farooqui 5-7). Childhood obesity in America is a growing epidemic--because of advertisement of fast food, lack of physical activities, and parental control--that has lasting psychological effects.
As a little enlightenment on obesity, overweight and obesity result from an imbalance involving excessive calorie consumption and/or inadequate physical activity (Buchholz 5). The increases in overweight and obesity cut across all ages, racial and ethnic groups, and both genders. This increase stems from a variety of factors, primarily more consumption of calories and less vigorous activity. Obesity greatly increases the risk of developing many serious medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea, and certain forms of cancer (Davis 270). In 1999, 13% of children age 6 to 11 and 14% of adolescents age 12 to 19 were overweight. This prevalence has nearly tripled for adolescents in the past 2 decades. That is an preposterous amount of obese children. Parental obesity, maternal smoking in pregnancy, migration background, snacking while TV watching, low parental education, high TV consumption, and high birth weight are associated with overweight/obesity, and therefore are considered as possible initiators (Jeffery 277-80).
Sometimes, children cannot help if they become overweight or obese - it could come from their genes. However, obesity represents the archetypal complex multifactorial disease and arises as a result of behavioral, environmental and genetic factors that may influence individual responses to diet and physical activity. There is considerable evidence to suggest that, like height, weight is a heritable trait (Farooqui 5-7). Obesity is a complex phenotype and the assessment of obese patients should be directed at screening for potentially treatable endocrine conditions and identifying genetic conditions so that appropriate genetic counseling and, in some cases, treatment can be instituted. Classically, patients affected by these obesity syndromes have been identified as a result of their association with mental retardation, dysmorphic features and/or other...

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