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Is Obesity a Disease? by Rachel Yu

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Millions of Americans each day are in a battle.  They fight to keep the pounds off. Sadly, this is a war that many Americans are losing.  Over 190 million Americans are overweight or obese, equaling almost two-thirds of the American population (Doane). Despite the abundance of resources available to American, obesity, a preventable and curable disorder, is an epidemic that is affecting the U.S. population and economy greater than it ever has before.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is determined by BMI, or body mass index, which is calculated by height and weight.  For adults, the BMI range for being overweight is 25 to 29.9 while obesity is 30 and above (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  To put this in perspective, a 5’9 adult weighing 169 pounds would have a BMI of 25.0 — the lowest BMI in the range for overweight.  Body mass index helps differentiate those who are underweight, healthy weight, overweight and obese in the population.

American obesity has become a crisis.  As of 2007, a staggering 68% of Americans are overweight or obese.  Half of those, or 34% of the American population, are classified as obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  Despite all of the information that is available, still over two-thirds of Americans struggle with their weight.  More than 190 million people just in the United States are overweight or obese (Doane).  While health and weight is something that has not always been a problem, today it is more than just a normal health disease for America.  Compared to other countries, America’s obesity statistics are even worse.  Not only does America have the highest obesity rate of any developed nation, but as of 2002, the second highest country, Mexico, was 6.2% lower than America (NationMaster.com).

Obesity comes with many consequences other than just the obvious weight gain.  One of these consequences is an increased risk for multiple health problems.  These increased risks include coronary heart disease, type two diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, stroke, liver and gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problem, osteoarthritis, and gynecological problems (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  For those who are obese, the problem is much more than weight.  Overall health is compromised, and the individual is forced to deal with many health issues that may arise because of his weight.  Obesity can cause over sixty chronic diseases.   While obesity is a weight issue, the side effects it brings are much more than increased waist size.  On top of the sixty diseases, it also increases the risk of every cancer.  Most associate cancer with genetics, smoking, or UV damage, but cancer also can be caused just by being overweight or obese.  What starts off as a battle to keep the pounds off can end with a fight against cancer.  Obesity contributes to two-thirds of the cases of heart disease, the leading cause of death in America.  Whether it is heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, obesity comprises the body to countless harmful or even deadly diseases (Obesitycampaign.com).

The consequences of obesity extend beyond just health problems.   Between the missed workdays, the increased risk of sickness, and other costs, carrying extra pounds is a pricey endeavor.  Every year on average, an obese male spends $4,879 and a female spends $2,640 on the direct and indirect costs of their condition.

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Obesity, while an epidemic in America, is curable.  There are many ways to combat obesity, yet it is still a prevalent issue in America seizing many Americans’ lives.  Many obese and overweight Americans fail to put in the effort to lose weight.  There are many resources that can help make people who are obese healthier.  Studies concerning almost every aspect of obesity are available at the fingertips of Americans, only one quick Google search away.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 May 2013. <http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/index.html>.

Doane, Seth. “Battling Obesity in America.” CBSNews.com. 07 Jan. 2011. Web. 22 May 2013.<http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/01/07/eveningnews/main6069163.shtml>.

NationMaster.com. Web. 19 Mar. 2011. <http://www.nationmaster.com/index.php>.

Obesitycampaign.com. Campaign to End Obesity. Web. 20 Mar. 2011. <http://www.obesitycampaign.org/obesity_facts.asp>.



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