Obesity Prevelance​ in the United States and Ways to Combat it.

The problem at a glance.

35%. Nearly 35% of Americans are obese, it has now become a chronic illness. Not only is it a weight problem, but it is causing effects on physical, metabolic, and psychological health.

Obesity is more prevalent in middle-aged adults, aged 40 to 59 years than in those aged 20 to 39 years

As of 2013, according to the CDC, not one state had an obesity prevalence of less than 20%. Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016, the worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.

An estimated $147 billion and $210 billion in direct and indirect health care costs towards obesity, as of 2010. Obesity continues to climb, combined health care costs associated with treating obesity-related diseases could rise by $48 billion to $66 billion per year by 2030. Obesity is caused by an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Caused by energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.

Why are Americans obese?

  • Lack of exercise. Many American’s no longer work in fields or in factories and more jobs require sitting which means less and less exercise.
  • Americans also choose to walk less than in any other industrialized countries and rely on cars to get around. According to the CDC, around 80% of Americans don’t get enough exercise.
  • Poor sleep, stress, lower breastfeeding rates are all said to contribute to obesity.
  • Excessive weight gain in pregnant mothers, in utero effects of smoking are indicators for children to obesity later on.
  • Today, each American puts away an average of 195lbs of meat every year, compared to just 138lbs in the 1950s.
  • Larger portions, processed foods, drive-thru fast food joints are branded as classical Americans because they are fast, cheap, filling, and delicious.
Only 12% of US food consumption is plant food while more than half are processed foods. Eat whole food such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes to help maintain a healthier lifestyle and stop eating animals and proccessed foods.

Obesity is …

  • Obesity is a major cause of type 2 diabetes.
  • Obesity is a major risk for high blood pressure. About 3 out of 4 hypertension cases are related to obesity.
  • Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease. Increases your risk of heart failure. The risk of heart diseases increases with obesity.
  • People with obesity have reduced lung capacity. These people are at higher risk for respiratory infections.
  • Obesity is believed to cause up to 90,000 cancer deaths per year.
  • Obesity is also a contributor to a number of bone and joint issues.
  • Obesity is also to be seen with a number of mental disorders.

What can America do better?

This infographic from the American Heart Association says “Be healthy for good with this life sample 7.” Starting to make small life changes can add up to make overall health improvements.
  • A 2018 study published in Public Health Reports found that in states that implemented CDC-funded nutrition and physical activity programs from 2000 to 2010, the odds of obesity in adults decreased between 2.4 percent and 3.8 percent.
  • Insurance companies can incentivize enrollees to stay in shape, through covering weight-loss and wellness programs surrounded by junk food, which is usually extremely high in added sugars. And even worse, this food is often easier to prepare and more accessible than healthy options, like fruits and vegetables. To meet this challenge, Harvard University School of Public Health recommends restricting easy access to junk food, making healthy options more available through subsidies, increasing labeling standards, and taxing sugary drinks.
  • Living environments that encourage walking and biking rather than car dependence.
  • Evidence from the Healthy Communities Study showed that children living in areas that promoted physical activity and good eating habits had lower body mass index scores and waist circumferences than children in other areas.

America compared to the rest of the World.

The United States is home to the highest number of overweight and obese people in the world. 66% of adults in the US are obese compared to 37% worldwide while 29% of children in the US are obese while 14% of children worldwide are obese.

Children in America

A study done at the University of Michigan showed that more screen time is associated with greater risks of obesity. Children are spending less time being active. As Dr. Elizabeth Jackson stated, “Parents are not going to be around all the time to teach children to develop healthy habits, so starting at a young age to promote an active lifestyle and a nutritious diet are important for a foundation.”

For children in the United States, the prevalence of obesity decreased with an increased level of education. It was also lower in the highest income groups.

People are blaming society for pushing junk food despite the caviots associtated with it. People are also blaming the lack of access to exercise.

Obese children tend to grow up as obese adults. Obesity threatens to shorten life expectancy in the United States and bankrupt the health care system.

The fast foods that are consumed along with saturated fats are containing more and more endocrine-disrupting chemicals.


Watch the video on this link for more information (I could not figure out how to link the video):

Share this project
  1. April 25, 2019 by Caroline Glahn

    This is a very important topic and I am glad that you decided to do your project on it. I don’t think that people realize how much of the world is obese and that the start of it is from children not learning the right habits. What habits do you think kids should learn and how could those habits be introduced to them?

    • April 30, 2019 by Courtney Sell

      I think children learn most from watching their parents and others around them so if those people are making healthier decisions then children will not know anything else. Also making sure parents help their children get involved with sports or make them want to play outside instead of sitting in front of a screen. Buying healthier foods, not going to fast food places are all just some of the ways children can learn these healthy habits.

  2. April 26, 2019 by Anjali.Mirmira

    Hi Courtney! Awesome choice of topic. I think this an especially important issue, and I have actually spent time doing a research project into obesity and diabetes. To add on to the awesome points you’ve made, I think it’s important to consider how food deserts, or areas with sparse healthy foods and grocery stores, play a role. Oftentimes, food deserts cause healthy foods to be inaccessible so people cannot go to grocery stores and are more likely to get junk food. Building off your point about education, what are some ways you think we can make education available for those living in food deserts so we can work with people in their circumstances?

  3. April 27, 2019 by Alison.Lu

    Hi Courtney,
    Great job. I think that this topic is really important and I really liked the way your organized all your information.
    What do you suggest we do to combat this?

  4. April 28, 2019 by Abby Sekoff

    I love your use of the graphs and charts throughout your page. It really kept it interesting while still conveying all the messages you are trying to. This topic is something that needs to be addressed as the stats are going no where but up.
    Do you think the companies creating these products that contribute to these high rates of obesity have any responsibility? Is it solely the consumers fault?

    • April 30, 2019 by Courtney

      Hi Abby,
      I, of course, think that companies are contributing to these high rates of obesity. Although it is ultimately the consumers choice, these products even being brought out into the market which are usually unhealthy only continue to add to the decrease in health across America. Companies that tend to sell unhealthy products tend to be a more cost-effective option so making healthier options more affordable can help to lower these statistics as well.

  5. April 29, 2019 by Heather Gadalla

    Hi Courtney – your project is so relevant to today’s world and I hope that the message gets spread around as much as possible! Something that absolutely astounded me was that 80% of Americans don’t get enough exercise! I was wondering if you know what qualifies as exercise in this case; for example, would walking for an hour count?

    • April 30, 2019 by Courtney

      Hi Heather,
      So exercise is defined as any physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning the body. Exercise can consist of cardiovascular conditioning, strength and resistance training, and flexibility. As a goal, tend to aim for 30 mins of physical activity daily. Yes, walking does count, however, walking for an hour every day at the same pace is eventually not going to do much because your body will become accustomed to it. So you need to make sure that you are increasing your heart rate.

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