An overshadowed epidemic that continues to negatively affect millions of Americans is the rise in obesity. Obesity rates have been increasing for the past three decades in the United States. Approximately forty percent of women and thirty five percent of men in the U.S. are considered obese according to the Body Mass Index (BMI). Overall, about thirty eight percent of all adults are obese and seventeen percent of teenagers are overweight. Another study finds that eighty percent of adults in America do not get a sufficient amount of exercise. It is estimated that by 2030, forty four percent of all Americans will be obese. Obesity is clearly a growing issue that must be addressed before the epidemic consumes the whole nation.
So why has obesity continuously increased in the U.S. for the past thirty years? It has been difficult to find direct causes of this epidemic, but experts believe it could be the increase in television watching or the increase in high fructose corn syrup consumption or the increase in car use or the increase in fast food consumption. New studies suggest that all these factors have drastically changed American society and are directly linked to the rise in obesity in America. U.S. citizens spent about $6 billion dollars annually on fast food in the 1970s, but in 2000 alone Americans spent $110 billion. Based on research from Princeton University, the introduction of high fructose corn syrup into commercial foods in the 1970s directly coincides with the large increase in national obesity. It is apparent that these changes in society directly correlate to the spike in obesity over the past three decades.
Out of all the issues the President of the United States must assess, why should obesity be a priority? Studies have shown that people who have better eating habits and exercise consistently are more likely to have higher job performance. Studies by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University (BYU), and the Center for Health Research at Healthways show that employees who eat healthy are twenty five percent more likely to have higher job performance. Also, employees who exercised at least thirty minutes a day for three days of the week or more were fifteen percent more likely to be more productive. Absenteeism is also twenty seven percent lower among employees who eat healthy and exercise regularly. In addition, overweight workers actually had lower productivity and higher absenteeism than healthy workers and workers with chronic diseases, depression, and other health conditions. Studies have also found a direct relationship between obesity and heart disease and high blood pressure and high cholesterol and type two diabetes and stroke and high levels of stress and some cancers.
Many experts’ concern is with how to go about stop the rapid increase in obesity in America considering that the consumption of fast food and high fructose corn syrup is on the rise. One way to counteract these issues is to reduce the amount of high fructose corn syrup that is consumed. This can be done by urging the Food and Drug Administration to implement new health standards that require companies to lower the amount of high fructose corn syrup that is put into consumer products, especially packaged foods. In addition, encouraging fast food restaurants to give healthier options on their menus as well as having fast food chains promote exercise could be very beneficial. To create a more productive and efficient America, addressing obesity and the health of our nation should be your first priority.