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Obesity and Its Public Health Challenge

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Obesity and Its Public Heath Challenges

Obesity is a deep-rooted risk factor associated with other chronic diseases such as CHD, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. More than one-third of US adults are overweight, and overweight incident has tripled over the last two decades (Stein, 2004). The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States rank among the highest in the world (Wolf, 1998). As obesity spreads, concern about health and economic consequences has also escalated. Obesity has been associated with a variety of chronic diseases with almost 300,000 deaths each year and annually cost $117 billion in the United States alone (Stein, 2004). Thus, obesity has stood as the most leading public health challenge in the United States.

Each year, an estimated number of 300 000 US adults pass away due to causes related to obesity (Mokdad, 2001). Obesity is directly linked to numerous diseases and their associated conditions. The list includes but not limited to type II diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, respiratory problems, and gastroesophageal reflux. One of the most common diseases closely correlated to obesity is type II diabetes. There is approximately 85% of diabetes that is classified as type 2. There is an average of 70% that are overweight ranging from 50% to 90% (Albu, 2003). West and Kalbfleisch et al. proposed that the largest environmental impact on the prevalence of diabetes in a population is a degree of obesity present in that community (Albu, 2003). As indicated, obesity and diabetes are principal causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Thus, it markedly upsurges morbidity and impairs the lives of the affected (Mokdad, 2001).

Moreover, obesity is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis. As for the risk of knee osteoarthritis, the data from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted throughout the United States suggested that obese women with BMI>30 had almost four times the risk of osteoarthritis compared to women whose BMI was under 25 (Felson, 1996). As for the risk of hip osteoarthritis, out of 5000 women diagnosed with hip fractures from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures, obesity was associated with 80% increase in the odds of bilateral hip osteoarthritis (Felson, 1996). People suffering from obesity appear to be at higher risk of hand osteoarthritis than those who are not overweight. (Felson, 1996).

Finally, obesity has emerged as an important risk factor for respiratory diseases. Obesity may affect the development and presentation of these diseases. Obesity impairs breathing because of the reduction in both chest wall compliance and respiratory muscle strength. Such dysfunction creates a burden in the requirements for respirational muscles and needed volume to produce tension. This inevitably leads to a false perception of enlarged breathing effort (Poulain, 2006).

Recent epidemic of childhood obesity has raised substantial concern mainly due to potential clinical and public health consequences. There is a shocking growth in average weight of the youth in the United States (Stein, 2004). Hence, children become increasingly susceptible to obesity. Several stakeholders have vested interest in obesity including school, family, neighborhood, authorities at the regional level, national and international bodies, government, health care providers and health insurance company.

The Social-Ecological Model for management obesity among children consists of individual, interpersonal, institutional-organizational, and public policy. Common strategies are to reduce the sedentary behaviors, increase dietary intake, and increase physical activity. Regarding interpersonal aid, parents should be monitoring the time their children spending on watching TV viewing, their dietary intake, sibling interaction, and focusing on encouraging their children to take outdoor activities. They should also control the types of food available at home as well as schedule proper child-feeding intervals. In terms of institutional and organizational aid, schools should provide children with sufficient nutrition knowledge, accessibility to recreational facility, excellent physical-education program. They should also organize nutritious school lunch, and work with the authority to restrict the availability of convenience food and restaurant in the neighborhood. In terms of public policy aid, the government should modulate food price by increasing the tax on junk food and limit media programs that advertise unhealthy food (Johnson-Taylor, W.L. Everhart, 2016).

It is imperative that the current prevalence of obesity need a lot of attention. Obesity not only increases the global incidence of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, cancer, work disability, and sleep apnea but also escalates financial burden. It is reported that obesity constitutes 7 percent of the total healthcare cost in the United States (Visscher, 2001). Due to its growing incidence and tremendous treatment cost, obesity is being known not only as a clinical risk factor but also as a substantial burden to public health.

There are many adverse consequences of childhood obesity, including both short-term (childhood) and long-term (in adulthood) effects. Short-term effects of pediatric obesity also include its psychological aspects. Obese children are more likely to experience psychiatric problems than non-obese. Particularly, low self-esteem and behavioral problems are highly associated with obesity. For example, Strauss found that 34% of obese girls had lower self-esteem than non-obese ones (Reiley, 2003). Another short-term consequence lies on it’s the increasing cardiovascular risk in children. Childhood obesity can irreversibly damage the cardiovascular system. For instance, Freeman found that 58% of obese 5-10 years old children are susceptible to at least one out of five cardiovascular risk factors (Riley, 2003). The long-term consequences of pediatric obesity also consist of social and economic effects. Obesity in young adult hurts social and economic. For example, British females born in 1958 and with a BMI greater than 90 had significantly lower income than those with BMI less than 90 (Riley, 2003). Another long-term consequence lies on its impact on adult morbidity as well as the increased risk of premature mortality. Obesity adversely affects the US from not only a financial perspective that creates healthcare burdens and costs to the point where our employment expenses have become uncompetitive in cost levels, but also from a military standpoint, where overweight soldiers are incapable of completing standard duties in the army (Popkin, 2011).

FDA is the public health agency that also involves in addressing obesity among children. They reduce the burden of obesity by food labeling and educational campaign. As for food



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