Background: Ever since Surgeon General David Satcher announced in 2001 that American obesity was becoming an epidemic and that the USA was the worlds most obese nation, there has been a rapid increase in the over all health of the American Public and a decline in the nations average body mass index (BMI). The BMI system measures the amount of fat a person has compared to their height and weight. Anyone with a BMI over 25 is considered overweight; according to a study conducted by one of the top medical journals, The Lancet, when national BMIs are compared, America is not even in the top 10. America has lost its perviously held number one spot to Nauru. Over the last decade or so, the push for government intervention and personal motivation to get fit, and healthy has paid off. While American men are rated 10th on the BMI scale, amongst men internationally, American women are ranked 36th with a BMI of 28.7. This is proof that, obesity can be sustained and maintained at its current levels and even prevented for the future.
Counterintuitive note: Are women merely loosing more weight as a result of “negative media spins” that promote thin women? But, is this a positive impact on society since, although this media promotes eating disorders, only one in 200 American women suffer from anorexia and three in 100 experience bulimia? About 25 percent of American women have begun to loose weight the healthy way, according to an article produced by Women’s Health Magazine (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/fat-acceptance). Maybe diet commercials, the recent promotion of exercise and fitness, and media influence on being thin, have positively influenced the female population of the USA.
How can the government influence the public sphere in the future to keep promoting positive eating habits, work out plans and other health tips without being redundant and simultaneously promoting eating disorders.
Controlling “private behaviors”: One of the major issues in moderating obesity is influencing a persons private and personal behaviors. A government official cannot sit down with every family during every meal to make sure good eating habits are being enforced and proper exercise routines are being followed. One possible way of doing this, according Kersh and Monroe, is to create an even stronger sense of social disapproval. The idea is to alter social norms and have fast food chains and fattening foods be thought of as highly unacceptable. According to Kersh and Monroe, a step like this should be conducted similarly to the way things like marijuana and alcohol were deemed socially unacceptable and bad. Another way to influence public behavior is through medical-science which means allowing people to know facts about being overweight and what it means to be physically fit. However, according to the authors, the facts do not have to be entirely accurate; the idea is to convey the true message that being overweight is not good and will soon be socially unacceptable. Also, people should be able to get help outside of the gym, according to the authors, who want there to be group meetings similar to meetings set up for drug addicts. The demon user/ industry effect is to make Americans feel that people who eat poorly and industries that promote poor health habits are “demons,” or bad.
Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” helps promote healthy eating habits and exercise for children by targeting favored child media such as the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. The basis behind this program is to influence children at a young age at the home.
According to The Lancet’s study, the government should be responsible for making healthy foods cheeper and affordable. They should be easily accessible at both private and public schools along with universities. A large portion of American citizens that are overweight are underprivileged and cannot afford top grade foods, especially since the price of produce and lean meats has risen significantly with the current economic recession and the decline in the American agricultural industry. So, a possibility to increase health in the general public would be to produce cheeper produce and for the government to fund more home-grown produce, such as establishing new farms and giving money to already existing ones.
Mass movement: Also suggested for government intervention is for there to be higher interest group activity. Interest groups would push for better fitness programs in schools and underdeveloped areas of the country while helping to get government funding of farms and health foods.
Healthy eating/ workout plans: One of the most popular and highly effective diets is the Scarsdale diet plan. Created by cardiologist Dr. Herman Tarnower, the plan allows for users to loose up to 20 lbs in two weeks. It is a healthier alternative to other popular plans such as Atkins because it includes what they consider to be “complex carbohydrates” such as bread and fruit. The basis is healthy eating: limiting your intake of most carbs and eliminating others. The diet works by using a strict two week diet plan, and considerable exercise, followed by a week span of not dieting.
This diet requests daily healthy exercise. Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred is a diet video highly promoted by medical experts that targets abs, legs, arms and cardio for a span of 30 days. Accoring to many athletic experts, the workout video gives premium results for women looking to slim down and tone up. However, most experts suggest that women go to the gym for their daily exercise with a minimum of 30 minute cardio and at least a 15 minute abdominal muscle routine, and a rotation of working arms, legs, back and back muscles. Each day should include thorough stretching. It is key that anyone working out drinks plenty of water for hydration, muscle building and weight loss purposes.
An issue many people, especially women, have with working out is weight loss or gain. Muscle weighs more than fat, so, although a person may in fact be burning off their fat cells when working out, they are gaining weight through the obtainment of muscle mass. This can either: influence women to stop working out or develop an eating disorder.
Childhood obesity: Childhood obesity is a growing issue in American society. While many Americans are utilizing their time to a healthier lifestyle, it has become increasingly harder to prevent obesity in children. For whatever reason, parents and schools are failing at introducing good lifestyle choices into the lives of children and young adults. Childhood obesity has longterm effects that will have a negative impact on a child’s future such as a higher risk at developing type two diabetes, heart failure and other potentially dangerous diseases, harassment and a large risk at depression.
BMC public health has created the STOPP program that they believe will help eliminate and maintain the current rates of childhood obesity. The program targets schools, doctors and other public centers and wants to combat creating healthy, balanced eating habits, good sleeping patterns, and the development of good exercise routines.
Topics for smaller papers: Childhood obesity, the decline in the American BMI, government intervention.
Current state of research paper: Since I changed my topic last minute from the corruption behind Starbucks Coffee, to the prevention of obesity, I am still mainly in the research phase of my essay. However, I believe that I have found very reliable and resourceful sources so far. Also, this is a topic I have a great deal of prior knowledge to and a desire to further look into. So, I do not feel like I will have much difficulty with the furthering of my topic and future essays.