Opinions & Editorials

Address the obesity epidemic or people will die

White House officials under Donald Trump’s presidency think combating obesity isn’t a national priority. I think that’s funny because the United States is ranked as the 12th most obese country at a rate of 36.2%. 

Leading causes of death for Americans include diabetes, cancer and heart disease. What’s killing thousands of Americans annually are causes of death that obesity contributes to. 

I don’t have any faith in a government that fails to take action against the killer obesity epidemic plaguing the United States. It’s a disease, and it’s influenced by preventable elements of our society such as fitting criteria for body image or mass acceptance of an unhealthy lifestyle.

I never understood weight until I was in middle school. All I knew was people called me fat, and I felt big. Then, I went to the doctor who diagnosed me as a pre-diabetic. I was on the path to early death as an eighth grader weighing 211 pounds. 

Childhood obesity is becoming more common. In a Center for Disease Control (CDC study from 2015-2016, a recorded 18.5% of 2-to-19-year-olds were considered obese. Like me, that 18.5% were digging an early grave and most likely unknowingly. 

Nutrition is hardly ever taught in school. Our country is majorly sedentary. Only 24% of adults met physical activity guidelines in 2018. 

Meanwhile, the media portrays eating out as a time for wholesome, family bonding, despite the fact that one meal is taking up half of the 2,300 milligrams of sodium we should have a day. For many families, there isn’t even a wholesome element to eating out because they are stuck in poverty. 

Adding $1.50 a day to the food budget is all it takes to eat healthily. Poverty-ridden families working with a tight budget won’t see value in $1.50 compared to fast food’s ease and cheapness. That means contributing to an industry that makes an estimated revenue of $200 billion in America. 

The impoverished typically remain stagnant on the two lowest tiers of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: survival and security. Without either, there’s nothing to motivate a family to eat healthy because long term health is the least of their issues. Having enough food and temporary well-being are much more imperative. 

Lack of education of what we consume is disappointing, and even more so is our government’s carelessness for the people. Poverty clearly can lead to health issues when healthier food is given a higher price than the junk often seen on the plates of Americans. No state has an obesity percentage lower than 20. 

Another problem is the addiction to food that runs through the obese population. Much like our failure to rehabilitate criminals caught with or hooked on drugs, we fail the people struggling with weight. Food becomes, in itself, a disgusting drug that turns you into an insecure zombie. 

As a whole, we should promote therapy in conjunction with weight-loss for long-term benefit. Instead, we get laxatives under a facade of diet fads promoted on TV and Instagram. 

A recurring theme of our government is the priority not for the health of Americans, but the amount of money made. When COVID-19 cases were as close as Canada, the U.S. remained neutral toward the imminent threat eventually causing 250,003 deaths in the country alone. 

Why should we expect obesity to become a concern any time soon if the government consistently fails to act in the best interest of the well-being of the people? Like climate change, until things reach the point of no return, nothing will be done to incite significant change. 

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