Proposal 1: The American Obesity Epidemic

It’s impossible to ignore the obesity epidemic in the United States. People are getting larger, portion sizes are increasing, and our country is getting progressively unhealthier.  Not only is this epidemic affecting our population, it is affecting our economy and welfare systems as well. Billions of dollars are funneled into preventing people from reaching such extreme levels of obesity and helping the ones who are ill because of their weight. There are many different facets to this problem, and all lead back to unhealthy eating and the major issue that is obesity in America.

US Obesity Map

The facts behind the obesity rate in this country are astounding. According to the CDC, 36% of adults and 17% of children in America are obese, which means they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater. In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were approximately $148 billion and obese people were paying, on average, $1,500 more than a healthy person on annual medical bills. This demonstrates the obesity is not just a health issue, it is proving to be an economic one as well. Unfortunately, obesity varies among socioeconomic groups, various demographics, and different states. It is difficult to pinpoint what group to target in order to help solve this problem. It must be a nationwide effort.

Obesity among young children is proving to be one of the greatest hurdles in tackling obesity. During my research process, I came across Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to help childhood obesity by encouraging healthier lifestyles for children. The campaign recognizes the importance of schools in curbing the obesity problem in children. It encourages children to eat healthy, starting with their meals at school, and remain active throughout the day. The First Lady has been dedicated to her research and, because of the Let’s Move campaign, more than 4,000 schools have changed their policies in order to qualify is as HealthierUS school. This incentivized certification is issued to schools that adopt the HUSSC’s rigorous dietary standards in their school lunch program. As a result of the Let’s Move campaign, over 4,000 schools have become HealthierUS schools. This progress is uplifting; however, much more can be done in the process. Tackling childhood obesity is no easy task, but it is the only hope future generations have. If fewer children are obese and adopt healthier lifestyle habits at a younger age, they are more likely to remain healthier later in life.

The Let’s Move campaign is just one of many initiatives to help curb obesity in all ages. There have been various legislative bills introduced in an attempt to curb the nation’s rising obesity rates, including a controversial soda size ban introduced by New York City’s mayor Mike Bloomberg. However, people do not like to have their lives controlled by an intrusive government, even if they have the best intentions. Is government regulation the answer? When it concerns so many different aspects of our society, I believe it might be.


2 responses to “Proposal 1: The American Obesity Epidemic

  1. “Billions of dollars are funneled into preventing people from reaching such extreme levels of obesity…” I think perhaps more billions are spent funneling the food into them in the first place.

    I think billions are spent

  2. What a great experiment- do the HUSSC schools show any gains in lowering weight? Given that each school years i probably statistically similar to the prior one, you have a natural experiment.

    What is the incentive for the school to get the certification?

    Is there a relationship between school lunch programs being privatized over the last 20 years and an increase in unhealthy food? That seems to me the elephant in the living room no one wants to discuss.

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