Obesity: An Increasing Problem among Americans
Obesity is a very common health problem in the U.S., and the number of people considered obese is forever increasing. More than 35.7% of U.S. adults are considered obese (“Adult Overweight”). The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism points out that “obesity is a chronic medical condition characterized by too much body fat” (Beeson, Hill, Wyatt). It is diagnosed by a number called the Body Mass Index or BMI. This number calculates the amount of body fat based on the person’s height and weight. The higher the BMI the more body fat obese people have which leads to obesity. An adult with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. An adult with a BMI of greater than 30 is considered obese (“Adult Overweight”). While Obesity is an extremely serious problem in the U.S., this condition, except possibly for the cases of genetic and hormonal disorders, can be prevented by portion control, exercise, and eating a well-balanced diet.
First, there are natural causes of obesity that we cannot control such as genetic and hormonal disorders. Among the rare genetic obesity syndromes is the Prader-Willi Syndrome. It is the most common obesity syndrome due to the loss of imprinted genes. Some illnesses can lead to obesity or weight gain such as Cushing’s disease or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (“Adult Overweight”). However, these genes do not always predict future health. Multiple genes may increase a person’s susceptibility for obesity and require other factors such as large food portions or little physical activity (“Adult Overweight”). Obesity can also be caused by common Endocrine diseases or hormonal disorders such as Hypothyroidism or the more rare ones such as Cushing’s syndrome. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland becomes underactive and doesn’t produce enough of the T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. After this occurs, individuals’ metabolic rate decreases and bodily functions slow down which leads to weight gain and obesity. Of the more rare, Cushing’s syndrome, also called “the Obesity Tumor”, is when the adrenal glands produce an excess amount of cortisol.
In addition to genetic and hormonal disorders, obesity can cause numerous health concerns. Being overweight or obese gives individuals a greater chance of developing serious medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Obesity can shorten a person’s lifespan by ten years (“Is Obesity”). Heart disease is the leading cause of death nationwide for men and women. It is 10 times more prevalent in obese people. (“Health Effects”). Heart disease occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is reduced due to fat building up on the walls of the arteries. When dealing with high blood pressure the additional fat in the tissues needs oxygen and nutrients to live. This makes blood vessels work harder in order to circulate more blood to the fatty tissue. When this happens, the heart has to work harder in order to...