Huge Problem Eating is a pleasure! It is impossible for someone not to eat. But, what do we eat? Obesity has been a controversial issue for several decades. And, obviously, it will become a bigger problem if we don’t do something about it. It is part of the American culture to have poor health habits. The statistics concerning obesity show how serious this problem has become in America. According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted in 2007-2008, the results show that an average of 17% of children and adolescents between the ages of 2-19 are overweight or obese (“Childhood Overweight and Obesity,” 2010, para. 1). Rate numbers are alarming. The average of obese children has tripled in the last three decades. Deaths caused by obesity problems are going up 300,000 per year, meaning that obesity has become the number two cause of death in America. The first is tobacco- related deaths (“Top 15 Interesting Facts about Obesity in America,” 2010). Another interesting fact about obesity in America is shown by the statistics comparing blacks, Hispanics, and whites. “In most of the states examined, blacks had the highest prevalence (number of existing cases in a defined group of people during a specific time period) of obesity, followed by Hispanics, and then whites. Greater prevalence of obesity for non-Hispanic blacks and whites were found in the Midwest and South. Among Hispanics lower prevalence was observed in the Northeast compared to other regions” (“Compared with whites, blacks had 51% higher and Hispanic had 21% higher obesity rates,” 2010, para. 1).
Figure 1: Obesity among adults Note. From http://www.cdc.gov. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsObesityAdults/ The problem is not only about food; we can’t always blame the food we eat. For example, children watch TV and play videogames. Teenagers are not involved in outdoor activities as much as they were in the past; instead they stay home with “technology.” It would be better if an active life and a workout program were part of everyone’s lives. Lifestyle management is relevant. The busy and stressful world in which we live has changed the way we manage our lives. For instance, there is little time to cook healthy food. Furthermore, we end up getting fast food and junk food; we want something easy, quick and cheap. Sadly, all these types of foods have a lot of fat, calories, and lots of chemicals such as preservatives, colorants, additives, and artificial flavors. So what are some consequences and what are some possible solutions in the fight against one of the biggest health problems in America? It is easier to get into the “fast food world.” We see lots and lots of advertisements about junk food, like new combos, new menus, and promotions with reduced prices, and easier ways to obtain food. Not only for children, but for everyone, advertisement of sweets and treats is very powerful. On the other hand, we don’t see enough commercials about fruits, vegetables or foods with high nutritional benefits like fiber. Consequently, our minds and bodies crave the unhealthy options. For that reason, a good course to help combat obesity would be a change in advertising approach. Even two decades ago, a study made during prime time on American Television showed the following results: “Food references in prime time shows (excluding commercials) occurred an average of 4.8 times per 30 minutes of programming time (134 food references). References to low nutrient beverages (coffee, alcohol, soft drinks) occurred at a higher rate than any other category of food... Over half (60 percent) of all food references in prime time programs were for low nutrient beverages and sweets. In the 22 shows, there were 86 occasions of eating or drinking.