It is a popular topic nowadays, the issue of obesity among the youth of America. There is so much interest regarding this topic because it concerns the health and well-being of many people, most especially the young. They are the future of this country and everything must be done to make sure that they will not experience health problems when they are still young or worse die prematurely from complications coming from obesity.
The medical cost of treating diseases related to obesity can be a burden that most families could not afford to bear. There is, therefore, pressure from many sectors to solve this problem but the only problem is that the solutions that they are suggesting may not be enough to solve the problem. The issue of obesity and how to solve it will be discussed using the article written by Tom LaFontaine for the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
The significance of the study was made very clear in the opening statements when the author said that one-third of teenagers are overweight or obese. The author made it more interesting when he said that there are economic and health consequences of obesity. The author said that the first major consequence is Type 2 diabetes. Then the author went on to say that the next major consequence is cardiovascular disease and other psychosocial problems.
There was also a discussion on the medical spending that the United States government is forced to spend when it comes to health problems. According to the author, the estimated cost for the government is $92.6 billion in 2002 and aside from that, there is also the problem of 112,000 to 400, 000 death per year that can be attributed to being overweight (LaFontaine, p. 31). But the author also made it clear that there can be successful intervention strategies that will help these teenagers to lose weight and in the process prevent the problem that usually occurs when they are overweight.
But before that, the author wanted to show the prevalence of obesity and the reasons why many Americans are suffering from being overweight. The author said that it is due to the lack of physical activity. Using the results from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) only 43.8% of males and 27.8% of females were physically active for a total of 60 minutes or more per day (LaFontaine, p. 31). Aside from that, there is also the problem of the declining rate of physical activity from the year 1991 to the year 2005 (LaFontaine, p. 31). This is the main culprit and the main reason why Americans are obese and overweight.
The author also pointed out that if there is reduced physical activity then there will be a significant increase in body fat. This will result not only in Type 2 diabetes but also cardiovascular problems and an increase in high blood pressure. These are the main reasons why intervention programs must be developed and implemented to save the lives of so many young children who are suffering from the effects of obesity.
The author went on to describe the intervention programs that can be used to reduce the number of obese children as well as reduce the negative impact of being overweight. It was discovered that obese children who made radical changes to their diet and their behavior instantly benefited from these changes.
The author was correct to link obesity and the lack of physical activity. It is common knowledge that food is the source of energy. This energy must be used by the body. In the past when Americans were not so dependent in the use of cars and other labor saving devices such as a microwave oven and other electronic gadgets, there was no problem when it comes to physical activity. But in the latter part of the 20th century Americans had the ability to buy cars and to purchase devices and equipment that allow them to use their muscles sparingly. As a result the food that they ate is not used by the body and this extra energy is stored in the body as fats.
While the author made the connection between the lack of physical activity and obesity, he did not emphasize the role of food in making a person become overweight. The author made a deliberate decision to exclude the discussion of energy-rich foods such as those commonly referred to as “junk food” and other products that are associated with fast-food. This is very important because aside from the lack of physical activity the second most significant reason why Americans are overweight is due to the food that they eat. Processed foods such as chips and those that have high sugar content is easily accessible in the supermarkets and convenience stores.
There is therefore the need to discuss this factor, the availability of less nutritious food and yet packed with so much calories. It would be difficult to develop an intervention program that consist only of exercise. For an intervention program to work, children must be educated on the effect of junk food and other high-calorie food that can be purchased in fast-food restaurants. If this is the case then the children that are obese must undergo a process that will help them change their lifestyle.
The problem of obesity could not be solved by simply adopting a simple strategy. Obesity is the result of a particular lifestyle and therefore the solution will have to take into consideration the normal routine of the person such as the kind of activities that he or she is doing on a regular day and this must also include the food intake.
The author did not entirely forget about the role of food in obesity. In fact the author said that diet and regular exercise is the key to solving this epidemic. The only problem with the article is the fact that the author failed to emphasize that even if American children would seriously consider increasing their physical activity and not reduce their intake of high-calorie food then their effort will not amount to anything. It is therefore important for them to know that food is a crucial factor in their battle against obesity.
It is not enough for obese children to know that they are going to die a premature death if they will not change their daily routine such as doing exercise and reducing their food intake. These children must fully understand the consequences of their actions. It is also not enough for them to reduce their intake of “junk food” they must learn to love eating nutritious food such as fruits and vegetables. If they only have a basic understanding of the effect of food and if they will not experience a change of heart when it comes to consuming processed foods then it would be impossible for them to reduce their weight and reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes as well as hearty problems.
Obesity has become a major health problem in the United States. This is not only because more and more people are overweight but also because there are many children who are already overweight. This is due to the lack of exercise. As a result many are suffering the effects of obesity such as Type 2 diabetes and other related health problems such as coronary disease. This is the main argument of the article written by LaFontaine but it seems that the author did not include the importance of reducing the intake of high-calorie food.
It can be argued that even if children will increase the number of minutes performing vigorous physical activity, this strategy will not reduce their weight significantly because if they will eat high-calorie food then their body will be forced to store unused energy into fats. Thus, they will go back to the very beginning and it will be a frustrating intervention program. It is therefore important not only to teach them exercise but also the effects of eating junk food. Thus, there is a need to a total change of lifestyle in order for the children to find it appealing to exercise more and to eat less of processed food.
LaFontaine, Tom. Physical Activity: the epidemic of obesity and overweight among youth: trends, consequences, and interventions. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 2: 30-35.