A one’s B.M.I. is greater than or equal to


A Growing Epidemic: Obesity

Carter Popelas

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Honors English 12

January 11, 2018

California Area High School



Obesity in both childhood and adolescents continues
to be a prevalent health issue that is still increasing in size every year (Reilly
& Kelly, 2011). Research has discovered that in the United States, one in
every two adults is either overweight or obese according to their BMI (Must,
Spadano, & Coakley, 1999). This goes to show that numerous people, even
outside of the United States, are somehow affected by obesity. This epidemic is
overwhelming even those who are not obese or overweight. Obesity takes a lot
out of you, not only in costs, but also in health. This paper examines how
childhood obesity affects adulthood health wellness, the health risks and
economic factors that go along with obesity, obesity evolving throughout the
past decades, and how research has come up with a few successful methods to
prevent obesity. This paper also examines where future research could be done
that involves this topic.



Obesity, overweight, epidemic, prevention, children,
adults, economics, diseases, health, prevalence, B.M.I., widespread, weight


Definition of Terms

B.M.I. – A simple way
to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as a person’s
weight, in kilograms, divided by their height squared. ( ).
(W.H.O., 2011)

Overweight – When one’s
B.M.I. is greater than or equal to 25. (W.H.O., 2011)

Obesity – When one’s B.M.I.
is greater than or equal to 30. (W.H.O., 2011)

W.H.O.  – World Health Organization




Literature Review


Childhood Obesity

            Childhood obesity frequently travels
into adulthood, which is becoming more and more of an issue as the prevalence
of childhood obesity increases worldwide. As the amount of obese children
increases, so does the amount of obese adults. The chronic diseases and
conditions expressed in obese adults are also associated in children who are
obese. These include high blood pressure, depression, skin fungal infections,
and hyperlipidemia, which is a condition that causes high levels of lipids to
be in the blood. Approximately one third of obese children grow into obese
adults. If at least one parent was overweight, the risk of having obesity as an
adult is greater in both obese and non-obese children (Deckelbaum &
Williams, 2001). This is one of the factors that causes the prevalence of
obesity continues to increase all over the world. The obesity continues to
follow the family until someone puts a stop to it, ends their obesity, and
prevents their children from becoming obese. According to a recent study,
children from the wealthiest twenty percent of families expressed the lowest frequency
of obesity according to their economic statuses (Cunningham, Kramer, &
Narayan, 2014).

            Children who are suffering from
obesity usually suffer from more psychological problems than adults do with
obesity. This is because their minds are still growing and have not yet matured
into their final form. Obese children become targets of discrimination early in
their life because they look a little bigger than their peers do. As they grow
older, the discrimination occasionally follows them throughout their lifetime. This
is unfortunate because the discrimination has a high chance of leading to numerous
psychological factors for the individual.  These factors include depression, feelings of
rejection, negative self-esteem, and withdrawal from peers. The negative
self-esteem usually affects the individual when they become adults. This is
possibly because of the positive advice parents/guardians and teachers give
out. Once one becomes an adult, society starts to turn into a big part of their
life. They want to look like the skinny celebrities or the fit models and
actors/actresses that the media portrays as the ideal body. This starts to
impact obese adults because they want to look like these people, but they may
never be able to.

            Numerous predictors of adulthood
obesity appear while the individual is still a child. A high level of BMI as a
child usually predicts the individual becoming overweight or obese in their
adulthood (Deckelbaum & Williams, 2001). It has been discovered that a high
birth weight is a worthy predictor of obesity in adulthood and has been linked
to insulin rejection. 


Health Risks and Economic Factors
of Obesity

            Obesity is one of the main causes of numerous health
consequences and negative economic factors. According to a recent study, more
than eighty percent of obesity related deaths occurred among individuals who
had a BMI greater than thirty (Allison, Fontaine, Manson, Stevens, &
VanItallie, 1999). There are so many health problems caused by obesity that
they will be broken down by subcategory.

            The first category to discuss is the
metabolism complications. The main metabolism problem caused by obesity is
diabetes. According to the C.D.C., the Center for Disease Control and
Prevention, diabetes is the number seven cause of death in the world. Obese individuals
suffer from diabetes because obesity has a high chance of rejecting insulin. To
understand the idea of diabetes in short, it impairs the body’s ability to
produce insulin, which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Diabetes
causes the amount of glucose in the blood and urine to skyrocket to extreme
amounts. Almost ninety percent of obese individuals are bound to develop type
two diabetes in their lifetime. There has been an increase in the prevalence of
diabetes, which has been most likely caused by the increasing prevalence of
obesity. Other metabolic complications include dyslipidemia, which is a
condition that elevates the amount of cholesterol and lipids in the blood,
metabolic syndrome, which is actually a cluster of conditions that increase the
risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes, and hyperuricemia, which is an excess
of uric acid in the blood (Tsigos et al., 2008)

            Another main category of health
problems caused by obesity is cardiovascular disorders. Cardiovascular
disorders were the number one leading cause of death in 2012. These conditions
include hypertension, which is when the force of the blood is too strong
against the artery walls. The severity of hypertension can be based on the
individual’s blood pressure. A blood pressure level above 130/80 is described
as hypertension and above 180/120 is described as severe hypertension. Coronary
heart disease is another cardiovascular disorder caused by obesity, which is
damage or disease in the heart’s major blood vessels. Another cardiovascular
disease caused by obesity is a stroke, which is defined as interruptions to the
brain’s blood supply, which start to cause damage to the brain. (Tsigos et al.,

            Numerous types of cancer are caused
by obesity. These include major types of cancers such as liver, pancreas, and
kidney. Some other possible forms are colon, rectum, gallbladder, leukemia, and
lymphoma cancer. In women, obesity has a chance to cause ovary and breast
cancer after menopause. Obese men have a chance to receive prostate cancer. (Tsigos
et al., 2008)

            Numerous other miscellaneous health
complications are caused by obesity. These include skin infections, inconsistency
in urine, miscarriages, infertility, and periodontal disease, which is a
serious gum infection that can destroy the gum line and damage gums permanently.
(Tsigos et al., 2008)

As one’s B.M.I. increases, the risk of contracting
these diseases also increases (WHO, 2011). As the current obesity epidemic
continues, future generations may have lower life expectancies. A high concentration
of liver enzymes tends to be a common occurrence in obese children and adults.
These liver enzymes are frequently related to fatty liver, fatty hepatitis,
fatty fibrosis, and cirrhosis, which are all conditions that have the ability
to greatly damage an individual’s liver. Cirrhosis can actually lead to liver
failure, which is a life-threatening condition. A reduction in body weight
prompts a normal amount of liver enzymes to occur.

            Overweight and obese children have a
tendency to be taller, have advanced age on their bones, and start to mature
earlier than their peers who are not overweight or obese. Studies have shown
that an excessive gain of height usually is followed by an excessive gain of
body weight. Overweight and obese children tend to start something called early
maturation, which has been connected to an excessive gain of weight (Deckelbaum
& Williams, 2001).

            Not only does obesity cause such
diseases as stated above, but also it causes several psychological and
behavioral problems. These psychological consequences affect those who are
obese and are of any age. These problems include depression, anxiety, the
feeling of chronic rejection, withdrawal from interaction with peers, and a negative
self-esteem (Deckelbaum & Williams, 2001), which can occur in both children
and adults with obesity. Researchers are studying weather obesity causes
depression or the other way around. Both of these studies are important in the
research of this paper because one can determine the one of the factors that
cause obesity and if obesity causes serious psychological consequences.

Along with numerous negative health and
psychological effects, obesity has a huge economic consequence that goes along
with it. These costs will only rise as the prevalence of obesity increases and
the costs of the related health care. The total health care cost that account
for obesity and overweight would nearly double every year, which could range
from about eight hundred sixty billion to about nine hundred fifty-six billion
U.S. dollars by 2030. This accounts for sixteen to eighteen percent of total
U.S. health care costs. It has been estimated that people who fell into the
obese group had to pay almost one thousand more dollars than individuals who
did not have obesity paid for health care (Wang, Beydoun, Liang, Caballero,
& Kumanyika, 2008). Not only has obesity cost many individuals their health
and thousands of dollars, but also the prevalence of it is on the rise.


Trends of Obesity throughout the

As one can see, obesity causes a multitude of health
risk factors and economic consequences, and it is only affecting more and more
people. Numerous studies have shown that the prevalence of obesity has been
increasing over the past few decades. Since 1975, the amount of worldwide obesity
has nearly tripled (WHO, 2011). This means that unless if we find a solution to
slowing down obesity in the near future, we could see the majority of the world
suffering from obesity. This is something that most likely no one wants to see
occur. For now, though, we are forced to look in the past and discover why the
frequency of obesity has been increasing every year. These increases in obesity
prevalence are across all genders and of all races. They are affecting everyone
all over the world.

According to a recent study, since 1960 to 2008, the
prevalence of obesity in the United States among non-Hispanic white men has
increased from twenty percent to thirty two percent, twenty one to thirty seven
percent among non-Hispanic black men, and from twenty four to thirty six
percent among Mexican-American men. The same article stated that the prevalence
of obesity among women in the United States increased from twenty three to thirty
three percent among non-Hispanic white women, thirty eight to forty nine percent
among non-Hispanic black women, and from thirty five to forty five percent
among Mexican-American women. Trained health technicians who were using
standardized measuring procedures and equipment took these measurements (Ogden
& Carroll,2010). These calculated states prove that obesity affects all
genders, races, and nationalities across the world.

This increase in the prevalence of obesity is not
only affecting adults, but also it affects the children of this world. The
increase is greater among adults rather than children though. Nearly twenty two
percent of children attending preschool in the United States can be defined as
overweight and ten percent can be defined as obese. These numbers compare to eighteen
percent and eight percent respectively in 1983 (Deckelbaum & Williams, 2001).  This not only occurs in industrialized
countries, such as the United States, but also developing countries all over
the world.

Prevention of Obesity

            Obesity is an epidemic that is overwhelming a huge
quantity of people from all around the world and of all ages. There have been
many discussions and much research put into finding ways to stop, or even slow
down, obesity.

For suggesting forms of prevention, researchers
occasionally sort it into five stages of development. These stages include
Perinatal, Infancy, Preschool, Childhood, and Adolescence. In the Perinatal
phase, having good health care, nutritional education, controlling diabetes,
and helping mothers lose weight postpartum are all effective ways to start the
prevention. In the Infancy phase, it is suggested to breastfeed until about the
infant is about six months old, and then introduce solid foods after six
months. In addition, following the infant’s weight control carefully and
providing a balanced diet with few high calorie snacks are useful suggestions. During
the Preschool phase, helping develop healthy food preferences, monitoring the
weight increases of the child, and encouraging child and parent nutrition
education are some of the methods used by many parents to prevent childhood
obesity. During the childhood stage, parents are suggested to monitor the
weight increase based on the child’s height, supplying nutritional education,
and encouraging daily physical activity. Ways to prevent obesity in the stage
of adulthood include preventing excess weight gains after growth spurts,
maintaining healthy and balanced nutrition, and continuing with the daily physical
activity (Deckelbaum & Williams, 2001).

As stated above, the majority of obesity prevention
is focused on starting when the child is young. This allows them to stop the
obesity and poor nutritional choices before it gets too bad in their adulthood.
A lower prevalence of childhood obesity in turn shows a lower prevalence of
obesity in adulthood.  Having excellent
nutritional choices and daily physical activity are the two most important ways
to prevent obesity. Having those nutritional choices causes one to eat less
food that is high in fats and sugars. It is clear that one should stay away
from these foods or at least eat them on rare occasions. When one has daily
physical activity, they are going through with numerous health benefits. Physical
activity is the number one method to prevent chronic diseases. Daily physical
activity not only prevents obesity, but also several chronic diseases, such as
cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, depression, and
osteoporosis. The higher the use of daily physical activity, the lower chances
of said chronic diseases, especially obesity and being overweight (Warburton,
Nicol, & Bredin, 2006).

Researchers have discovered that children who live
in high-income households are less likely to become obese than their peers who
are living in lower-income neighborhoods. Lower-income neighborhoods tend to
have not as advanced schools to educate the youth about the importance of a
nutritional diet and physical activity. These may provide outside school
physical activities, such as sports, that the students’ families are not able
to pay for. These neighborhoods have a higher chance of not having pro-health
stores, such as Whole Foods and farmer markets. They also most likely contain
less advanced gyms and recreational centers. Those areas that are available for
the public may not be as accessible or safe for individuals to attend. This
forces the children to stay inside and usually do activities such as eating
more or watching the television. Individuals in these neighborhoods also are
more likely to purchase foods that are high in fat and sugar because they tend
to be less expensive than their healthier alternatives. They also, usually
overwhelmed by stress and economic problems, tend to cope by indulging in said
sugary foods. Children who eat together with their families are less likely to
become obese. One reason for this is that their families encourage healthier
meals. Another reason is that this prevents children from eating in front of
the television, which may cause mindless eating, which is eating while not
paying attention to what and how much is being consumed (Veugelers &
Fitzgerald, 2005).




Considering everything, obesity is a developing
epidemic that is negatively affecting everyone all over the world. Obese
children have a great chance of remaining obese into their adulthood. There are
numerous health risks and economic factors that affect individuals who are
obese and their families. The prevalence of obesity is increasing not only in
the United States, but also numerous other countries. There has been a lot of
research dedicated to discovering a way to slow down, or even prevent obesity.


Future Research

It is possible for future research to be done in
numerous topics involving obesity. The main topic is the discussion on how to
prevent obesity from occurring so rapidly. Scientists have not found that one
perfect program for everyone to follow. There are already a few programs that
are able to help some individuals who are obese, but there is still a large
percentage of people that are unable to follow these methods. More research could
also be done every year in proving the hypothesis that the prevalence of
obesity is increasing. This should not only be done in the United States, but
also other various countries. There is already research examining other
countries, but the times of research should be longer than previously recorded.








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