America’s health is on the decline. Over the past several decades, the rates of obesity have soared to new heights, which has created a frightening reality: the majority of the American population is overweight or obese. People enjoy the fast food, microwavable meals, and choose to eat to please rather than eat to live. And I used to be one of those people who didn’t care about health or the ongoing effect(s) it may have had on me later in life. That’s why I, after heavily researching, transitioned my entire diet to one that is plant-based and full of fruits and vegetables. Our health is one of the most important things that we can change for the better, yet it’s often overlooked. An epidemic is encroaching upon America, and it’s affecting millions of people, so why isn’t anything being done about it?
According to the National Institute of Health, more than two in three adults are overweight or obese, and the estimated annual medical costs due to obesity are around $150 billion. The cause for such a staggering rise in overweight and obese people is related to a variety of factors, with the most prominent being our transition to desk-based jobs, increased consumption of processed foods, and a higher caloric intake. Statistics released by the organization PublicHealth reveal that “Americans eat 20% more calories now than in 1983” and “only 20% of today’s jobs require at least moderate physical activity, as opposed to 50% of jobs in 1960”. Furthermore, obesity can lead to serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Heart disease is not only a major side effect of obesity, but it is also the leading cause of death in the United States every year with one-quarter of all deaths stemming from it. The fact that the leading cause of death is preventable should be a massive indicator of how important this issue is. Why continue to ignore and not acknowledge something that causes millions of deaths every single year? The rate of diabetes has increased by 70% over the last decade and 20% of new cancer diagnoses are being attributed to obesity. Is this not enough? This is an issue that should truly be a top priority because it is affecting the vast majority of the population and is costing the United States billions of dollars every year in healthcare costs and is even costing people their lives.
While people are responsible for their own health, they are not the only ones to be blamed because the government is causing equal detriment to human health. The USDA dietary guidelines suggest that people consume fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, yet the government swims in its own hypocrisy by promoting the consumption of unhealthy foods through billions of dollars in subsidies. The Union of Concerned Scientists found that of the 433 million acres of United States cropland, only 10% is devoted to the production and growth of fruits and vegetables. Not only that, but due to the subsidies of unhealthy foods by the government, fast food corporations are able to have low cost foods on their menu, like McDonald’s famous Dollar Menu, and grocery stores are able to sell processed garbage at a lower cost than healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables. Also, when you watch TV, what kinds of advertising do you see? Do you see fruits and vegetables being advertised or sugary snacks and cereals? This goes to show that corporations promoting unhealthy, processed foods have extreme power and extensive lobbying abilities in the government. This needs to end because people aren’t the only ones responsible for their health, it’s also the government’s job to support their overall well-being. So, when the government engages in acts that are contradictory to the message that they spew out, it can be harmful to people that are already conflicted with what to eat. The government must support the people it's supposed to serve by actively encouraging healthy behavior through both words and action.
Ultimately, Americans are facing a health crisis that has reached massive proportions. Considering over two-thirds of Americans are now overweight or obese, this is clearly a pertinent issue that can no longer be dismissed or pushed aside as something trivial. It’s an issue that has led to the deterioration of people’s health and has resulted in the deaths of millions of people a year. The government needs to be promoting wellness and health by subsidising and advertising nutritious foods that are actually nourishing to the human body. No more of these ridiculous exercise programs like “Let’s Move!”; we need programs that attack at the source of the problem: diet. What people eat, what people put into their bodies is where the focus needs to be. Health and nutrition aren’t confusing or complicated, they’re simple. It doesn’t involve foreign policy or war or international relations, it’s a thing that can be easily controlled and fixed by educating people. So, educate people. Help people. Inform people. Just do something about this epidemic that is bound to progress and advance even further if nothing is done at all.
"Adult Obesity Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Sept. 2016. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.
"Obesity in America." PublicHealth. PublicHealth, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.
"Overweight and Obesity Statistics." National Institute of Health. National Institute of Health, Oct. 2012. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.
Plant the Plate. Digital image. Union of Concerned Scientists. Union of Concerned Scientists, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.