Americans exporting obesity, must take responsibility

Americans exporting obesity, must take responsibility

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Illustration by Aaron Logan

Every country has its own problems with diseases, and the prime problem for America is obesity. Unfortunately, America is exporting its problem and it is starting to affect other countries. Why is this happening, and how should we change our food habits? It’s not too hard if we just follow the proper steps.

Obesity is the foremost health issue in America, and obesity rates have been rising every year. It is mainly caused by lack of physical exercise combined with the intake of too many calories, especially from foods with higher fat content, such as pizza, fries and burgers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is also influenced by genetics and behaviors—for example, children who watch television for long periods tend to have a higher risk for obesity.

The CDC projects that 44 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030. In addition, according to an article by reuters.com, there will be as many as 7.9 million new cases of diabetes per year (compared to 1.9 million new cases in recent years). The increasing burden of illness will go right to the bottom line, adding $66 billion in annual obesity-related medical costs. According to the National Institutes of Health, being overweight also leads to complex health issues such as strokes, cancers, dyslipidemia, liver and gallbladder disease and menstrual problems.

Often we think obesity is a problem that “America” has and Manhattan doesn’t, so let’s talk about what’s right here at K-State. I have seen many students drive to campus even though they live right next to it. It makes sense to use a car in the winter season, but they are otherwise unnecessary. You don’t need a car to go to the Rec or to campus.

Apparently, students are also too lazy to bother walking up a flight of stairs. I’ve observed many students use elevators to go up just one or two floors. Watch when you’re next in Hale Library, Fairchild or Throckmorton. While we’re young, such habits might not affect us, but they will in the long run. If I were you, whether I had money or not, I would prefer bikes and staircases to laziness and poor health.

Americans eat more than they should. According to the USDA in a Jan. 2011 article on livestrong.com, the average American daily calorie intake was 2,234 in 1970 and 2,757 in 2003. This is an increase of 523 calories consumed per day. If Americans don’t change their everyday food habits, it could be very dangerous not only for them but also for the generations for whom they are setting an example.

In my opinion, it’s not just Americans who have been dealing with obesity—the rest of the world struggles as well. However, America is exporting obesity to many countries through food companies like McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King. Other countries are starting to take a liking to fast foods and to show the same habits of laziness, lack of self-control, and lack of health-consciousness that led to America’s obesity problem. The government needs to take steps to control obesity because it’s not just America that’s being affected anymore.

I’m pretty certain that no one who is obese likes being so, but it takes a lot of effort to get rid of this disease. It may not affect you now, but obesity in the long-run means there are bad times ahead. Do something about it now. It’s time to take the stairs, tie up your laces and climb.

Anu Muthyam is a sophomore in computer science. Please send comments to [email protected].

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