Obesity: The New "Epidemic"
One of today's biggest concerns, a major public health dilemma, and a new 'epidemic' not just in the United States but globally, is obesity, and especially childhood obesity. The prevalence of childhood obesity continues to increase and at truly alarming rates globally, even in some countries who have never had this problem.
Social Determinants For Obesity
Compared to prior decades, children are less active. They spend very little spare time outside, and more inside where they have all the latest electronics, gadgets, and television available. More time spent indoors, will more than likely result in endless addictive hours of TV watching, and electronics-engaging. This sedentary habit adds inches to your waistline, lowers the quality of your life, and can lower lifespan years by 5 years. This is significant.
The Biggest Culprit? Food Manufacturers
While the dominant social factors and causes of childhood obesity include but are not limited to: unhealthy eating, physical environment, inactive lifestyles, and socio-economic status(SES), the constant bombardment and media marketing, by food manufacturers are by far the biggest culprit. In the United States alone, there are approximately 15, 000 McDonald restaurants, and there are many other fast food restaurants. In comparison to other industrialized countries, such as their closest ally, Canada, advertising for fast foods in America and the number of fast food restaurants per capita accounts for larger percentages.
Affordable Food And Easy Targets
Children are easy targets, and food manufacturers know exactly how to appeal to them, and fast foods are especially affordable for children and those of lower SES, but are also loaded with fats, sugars, salt, high fructose corn syrup, and other unhealthy compounds and substances. They are also much cheaper to produce, which is why they are so affordable, and overall, they are of lower quality and contain less nutrients. Such dynamics create the perfect breeding ground for chronic diseases and other illnesses including cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and of course obesity.
The Older Years
As we age, our metabolic rate slows down. For adults particularly, retirement further exacerbates the situation. For most, there is less to do, therefore, if your lifestyle is an inactive, sedentary one, it becomes even more critical to be active. An inactive lifestyle will encourage more television watching, which can also encourage more eating, and for many, a fast food fix. Overtime, you, the TV and its remote are alike: Stagnant-just sitting there. The big difference is that unlike the television, you are alive-with an expanding waist, and a very high risk of health problems and chronic diseases.
The Sad Reality If This "Trend" Continues
Certainly these are good reasons to replace bad habits for healthier ones, eat well, avoid fast food temptations, move, and stay active. Continuation of this global trend undeniably calls for major public health interventions to combat this new 'epidemic.' Anything less, current rates of chronic illness and disease will just be the 'tip of the iceberg,' and parents will also outlive their much younger kids.