America’s growing obesity problem

Salma Abdel-Azim, Contributer

If we rectify the mistakes our society has made, we can become a more healthy society and reduce the disease ravaging our nation.

Are you aware that obesity is plaguing America and societies all over the world? It is a big issue around the world and is discussed widely. According to, currently, one in every three adults is obese and so are one in every four children in the U.S., making our country one of the world’s most obese nations. Studies have shown that by the year 2030, over half of Americans will be obese, which will add 6 million cases of diabetes, 5 million cases of heart disease and stroke, and over 4 hundred thousand cases of cancer. This issue is so serious that our generation will be the first generation with a life expectancy that is lower than our parents.

Forty years ago, this was not an issue, so what has changed? Americans are consuming about 25 percent more calories. In comparison to 1970, the percentage of the caloric intake of sugary drinks has almost tripled. 50 percent of Americans consume fast food weekly and 75 percent of them, monthly.

Only one-third of adults exercise the recommended daily amount and children spend about 7.5 hours of screen time per day. All of these factors contribute to the fact that Americans burn 130 calories less daily in comparison to 1970, which compounds into 31,000 calories annually.        

  In addition, the financial status of the families is an added factor to obesity. In communities whose families earn under $15,000, ⅓ are obese. In communities whose families earn over $50,000, ¼ of them are obese. This is in part because poorer neighborhoods tend to have many more fast food restaurants than grocery stores. This means that fresh, healthy food is limited. In fact, about 23.5 million Americans do not have access to a supermarket within a mile of their homes.

TV, video games, and other electronic devices contribute greatly to the obesity of America. While parents feel at ease when their children are at home, this does have a cost. Many children engage in “mindless eating” while watching TV or playing video games for lack of anything else to do.

So what needs to change? We need to start at the root of the problem. According to Michael Rosenbaum, author of a CNN episode discussing obesity, “One way is to focus on obesity prevention, which starts in the home, school and community.” Children need to be taught better habits, such as eating vegetables and eating healthy meals, that will stay with them as adults. Also, school lunches need to be healthier, without sacrificing taste and amounts. Students should feel satisfied, both by taste and amount, at the end of a lunch hour. Parks should be built in more neighborhoods to encourage children to exercise more. Screen time should be lowered and fun, engaging activities should be encouraged. Exercise should be looked at as fun and not as a form of torture. In addition, healthy food everywhere should be increased. More grocery stores should be built, so people have access to healthy food.

If we rectify the mistakes our society has made, we can become a more healthy society and reduce the disease ravaging our nation. Encouraging exercise and healthy eating will ensure a better society.