6 November 2018
Obesity and Poverty
In America today, there is probably no public health issue that gets greater attention than obesity. The American “Obesity Epidemic” and how to address it has been the top story of nearly every American publication at some point or another in the past few years. Americans engage in fierce debate over how to address it, and physicians across the country are trying to find ways to combat the health problems obesity causes. The question is: Why isn’t it working? Why is obesity still on the rise? What is the true main cause? Many experts today think that we need a change of focus. Let us look at the possibility that we are addressing the wrong causes, and then we can address obesity at its roots. That problem is poverty and the fact that many low-income people don’t have access to the proper foods and nutrition, causing the epidemic of obesity in these communities.
For an adult, obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) that is greater than thirty. A BMI is a person’s height divided by their weight, then squared. For a person to be considered at a healthy or average weight, they must have a BMI between 19 and 25 for adult women and 20 to 25 for adult men. “An adult with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight; a person with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese (Valburn 1). A person is considered morbidly obese anywhere above 40. For children and adolescents, weight status is determined by comparing the child's height and weight with the standard for their age group. A child is considered obese if they are above the 95th percentile for their age group.
Obesity most often has an inverse effect on nutrition. Commonly, people believe that if a person is obese, they must be well-nourished. However, this is just not the case. There are two different types of malnutrition: macro malnutrition and micro malnutrition. Macro malnutrition is a result of a person simply not having enough food to keep their body healthy. Micro malnutrition is caused by a person not getting enough nutrients; often, the person is consuming enough or even more than enough overall food, but they are not eating foods with any nutritional value. The majority of the foods and drinks they consume are “empty calories”, like soda pop or potato chips, with no nutrients. “Adults with very low food security drink an average of nearly two cans of soda a day (Price 561). The micro malnutrition associated with obesity poses a major risk to a person's health, especially children. Children who are obese also have a much higher chance of becoming obese adults.
Though obesity has hit every single group of the United States population, the American family who struggles the greatest with obesity in the United States has several defining characteristics. The family has a single female parent between the age of 18 and 25. They are considered to be “low-income’ and...