Obesity is defined as having a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or greater. A persons BMI is calculated from their height and weight. There has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the US(http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html). I think that there are a lot of contributing factors as to why obesity is on the rise, along with a lot more speculations coming forth from the science community.
I think that one of the obvious reason of this dramatic increase in obesity is the change in our diets. The amount of packaged food that awaits us in the grocery stores is simply appalling along with the sodium, fat, and calories that comes along with it. The unfortunate part of this scenario is that we have become so busy and rushed in our daily lives that we feel we need these products in order to simplify our lives. When the reality is, you can fix an excellent meal in the same amount of time that your heating up that frozen meal in the microwave. There are absolutely dozens of sites on the internet where you an find quick, easy, and cheap recipes that are going to be a lot healthier for you and your family than those prepackaged meals. Then we have the price issue. I used to browse through coupons looking for deals, but I realized that most of these ‘deals’ were for junk food that I didn’t want to begin with. I think that it’s an extremely sad thing when you walk into the grocery store and find that a bag of cookies is 1/4 the price of a container of fresh strawberries. What kind of message is this sending to people?
Another obvious reason for the rise is of course the lack of physical exercise. People have become busy with their daily lives and when they get home they are tired and ready to relax. Exercise is the last thing on their minds. Sadly, many people would probably find a good workout rejuvenating in the evenings, plus would have the added benefit of stress relief. This is not how we think about things anymore though. There are computers, TV’s, and game consoles to come home and sit in front of to ‘relax’. While some people would call this laziness, I’m going to call it what I think that it is, and that is a lack of motivation and/or self-control. I think that a lot of people would like to exercise more often, but after a long tiring day wind up talking themselves out of it. This then becomes a habit, because it’s always easier to say ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’.
We then have the numerous studies that have been done that link weight gain with the lack of sleep. In our fast-paced society, who has time to get the recommended time of sleep in? If you are one of those people who functions great on six hours of sleep, you might be okay. People that need seven or eight hours of sleep probably are not getting the amount of sleep that they need. The people that need more than eight hours of sleep to get up feeling great, are definitely not getting the sleep that they need. It’s easy to say that you are going to go to bed at a certain time so that you can get a good night’s sleep, but how many times does that actually happen? There’s a good movie on and you want to stay up and watch it. You’re busy talking to a friend on the phone and forget the time. Your helping your child with homework and you can’t just go to bed. There are endless things that can and will happen that will end those happy dreams.
Now they are saying that many of today’s pollutants are affecting our hormones, which controls our body weight.
Another issue is the climate controlled society we live in. Our bodies work harder (and burn more calories) to keep us warm or cool, but with climate control our bodies aren’t doing this extra work anymore.
Many of today’s drugs that are taken on a daily basis by millions of people are contributing to weight gain. Some of the more popular drugs that cause weight gain are birth control, steroid hormones, diabetes drugs, blood pressure drugs, and some anti-depressant medications.
There is also the evidence that obese people tend to be more fertile. So, if obesity does indeed have a genetic component to it, there is going to be an increase in obesity.
I’m sure that there are more reasons to the rising obesity rates than what I have listed here. With the amount of science research that is being done on this subject, they are sure to be coming up with new ideas all the time. I personally feel that more should be done to stop the rise in obesity, but until the people truly want to do something about it, I think that the rise in obesity rates will continue to increase.
Sources: A CBS News HealthWatch http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/06/27/health/webmd/main1757772.shtml