Essay: Obesity the Problem

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[. . .] Certain foods can help to satisfy a person's hunger without adding a great deal of unwanted calories.

Another means of intervention is the support group. Individuals who suffer from obesity can receive counseling in mental health facilities, hospitals, or therapy sessions designed to relieve the individual of the stress which may be contributing to weight gain, inactivity, and poor dietary habits. Counseling can be a very beneficial means of intervention, especially if it helps to inform the individual and provide a much-needed understanding of the dangers of excessive weight-gain.

While one can concentrate on one's diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle/attitude changes, there is also another method of intervention which focuses on the more passive side of weight-loss. This method utilizes prescription drugs and/or surgery as modes of intervention in the fight against obesity. One medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration is Xenical. This drug helps stop weight gain by acting as an inhibitor in the "digestion and absorption of fat" in the individual's body. However, side affects to taking the drug, such as more frequent bowel movements, can cause the individual to feel some degree of discomfort. Such drugs may contribute to a higher rate of weight-loss -- but they are not the only means of intervention available.

Stakeholders' Interest

Politicians like New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg have done a great deal in overseeing the passing of legislation designed to curb citizens' tendency to cull unhealthy dietary habits. Bloomberg recently sought to limit the sale of soda sizes in New York City. Bloomberg is interested in obesity because as a public official he sees the epidemic proportions of the problem in the nation's largest city and wants to do his part in the campaign to fight the problem. Whether Bloomberg's proposal to ban large sized sodas will actually play a successful part in the fight remains to be seen. As researchers like Dubowitz have found, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the relationship of official efforts to fight obesity and the actual loss of weight in obese individuals.

Nonetheless, more and more administrators are seeing the need to do something. Healthcare providers are being made aware of the problem thanks to work by doctors like J. Michael Gaziano (2010), who notes that "by 2020 almost half of U.S. adults" will meet the World Health Organization's "criteria for obesity" (p. 275). As a result of such result, organizations like Mayo Clinic offer several avenues to learning, fighting and dealing with obesity.

Obesity in children is also becoming a big concern for administrators who see themselves as having a social responsibility in the fight against obesity. Public school lunches are under constant review and revision and even the First Lady, Michelle Obama has sponsored a nationwide campaign to fight obesity through a more active lifestyle and better eating. Such administrators and officials are in key positions to raise national awareness concerning the obesity epidemic and as leaders of a democratic Republic, their actions are meant to be the consequence of the nation's voice.

Policy Recommendations

The best policy in fighting obesity should consider the following points: first, obesity is a disease that can be caused by a number of varying factors ranging from physical ailments to mental illness to simple lifestyle habits. It is important to deal with each individual case of obesity accordingly. While there are several ways to fight obesity in general, every person will need to approach the problem in a unique way that addresses the underlying issues exclusive to that individual. This is where developing a weight-loss program especially designed for the patient can be most helpful. After meeting with a physician, counselor, and other experts, an individual can address problem areas related to diet, exercise, mental health, and environment that might be affecting his inability to lose weight.

Second, the stigma of obesity needs to be understood better. Such a stigma may have both negative and positive effects: for instance, young adults are motivated to lose weight by the fear of stigma. Other individuals may be afraid to address their obesity because of an unwillingness to be labeled obese. Finding the right approach to each individual is essential.

A general policy that could facilitate in the fight against obesity may focus on better eating habits. A nationwide recommended eating program might help to facilitate weight-loss. A nationwide recommended exercise program could do the same. An active lifestyle and a healthy diet are two excellent ways to counter obesity.

Summary and Conclusion

In summation, the problem of obesity is important because it has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Obesity can lead to heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and even death if not combated. It is also the leading factor in weight discrimination.

A number of factors can lead to obesity, but the primary factors in most cases of obesity are inactive lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits. Attending to each of these issues is imperative in the fight against obesity.

One way to treat obesity is by developing a weight-loss program with the help of a healthcare provider. Because every case of obesity is unique, a weight-loss program should be customized to fit the individual's needs. For instance, one patient may require more exercise than another. Or one patient may need more help in devising a suitable diet as a consequence of other health issues. There is no one "cure all" method of fighting obesity.

Prescription drugs are available as treatment but they are a passive form of treatment and do not promote the active habits that help an individual to maintain a healthy BMI. Drugs like Xenical may address the symptoms of obesity, but in many cases an individual's mindset needs to be addressed as well.

The mindset is best addressed by raising national awareness of the dangers of obesity. As the 21st century continues, obesity threatens to be the epidemic of the century, far outstripping all other epidemics in terms of the number of the U.S. population to suffer from the disease. Already the numbers are shockingly high. Unless some action is taken, obesity rates will continue to climb. Administrators are doing so, like NYC Mayor Bloomberg -- but ultimately it will be up to every individual to meet with physicians and/or counselors to determine the proper approach for him.

Reference List

Bray, G.A. (2013). Why Do We Need Drugs to Treat the Patient with Obesity?

Obesity, 21(5): 893-899.

Burmeister, J.M. (2013). Weight Bias in Graduate School Admissions. Obesity, 21(5):

918-920.

Chen, X., Beydoun, M., Wang, Y. (2008). Is Sleep Duration Associated with Childhood

Obesity? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Obesity, 16(2): 265-274.

Dubowitz, T. (2013). Are Our Actions Aligned with Our Evidence? The Skinny on Changing the Landscape of Obesity. Obesity, 21(3): 419-420.

Flegal, K.M., et al. (2010). Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among U.S. Adults, 1999-

2008. Journal of American Medical Association, 303(3): 235-241.

Gaziano, J.M. (2010). Fifth Phase of the Epidemiologic Transition: The Age of Obesity and Inactivity. Journal of American Medical Association, 303(3): 275.

Kanazawa, S. (2013). Childhood Intelligence and Adult Obesity. Obesity, 21(3): 434-

LaRose, J.G. (2013). Differences in motivations and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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